“Seed stories: Narratives of self, science, spirit, and social context”

Rowen White / Sierra Seeds   ∙   Ken Greene / SEEDSHED

Jason Cavatorta / EarthWorks Seeds   ∙   Kristyn Leach / Namu Farm

Dan Cornelius / Intertribal Ag Council   ∙   Yusuf Bin-Rella / Food Routes

What is SOSS?

  • An annual gathering of graduate students, researchers, farmers, and seed industry professionals working in organic seed systems.

  • The major annual event of the Society of Organic Seed Professionals (SOSP), the parent organization that has grown out of the SOSS network. SOSP is fiscally sponsored by Organic Seed Alliance, a 501(c)3 organization.

What are the goals of SOSS?

  • To create a community grounded in both scientific rigor and regenerative ethics, in which the organic seed movement can grow.

  • To connect and support graduate students working in organic seed systems, in order both to strengthen their current research and facilitate post-graduate opportunities.

Scroll down for more FAQ’s about SOSS 2019!



What’s the story with “Seed Stories?”

  • Each of us has a story -- a lifelong series of causes and events, people and places -- that has led us to work with organic seed systems.

  • Each of our stories has context. Each narrative represents a confluence of personal choices, cultural values, and socioeconomic structures. And importantly, none of these stories is finished.

  • SOSS 2019 is an invitation to share, re-examine, and re-imagine our seed stories.

What questions will guide SOSS 2019?

  • What drew you to work with seeds? What keeps you working with seeds?

  • How do science and spirit interact in your work with seeds? Do you find tension or complementation between intuition and scientific enquiry?

  • How have your identities -- race / ethnicity / gender / class / sexual orientation / ability/ etc -- shaped your work with seed? How have your identities shaped the questions you ask and the resources you have to answer them?

  • What questions – about productivity, aesthetics, power, ecology, or something else – do you want to answer in future seed projects? What insights might scientific paradigms, instruments, or technologies provide? Which questions can’t science answer?

  • Does thinking about the stories of seed varieties, or of the seed professionals who create them, change our conversation about plant breeding techniques and technologies? About intellectual property? About privilege?

  • If your plants took notes on you, what would they observe?

What makes SOSS unique?

  • SOSS is centered on graduate students. SOSS was founded in 2012 to support and connect graduate students working in organic seed and facilitate their transition to the professional organic seed sector. While professionals from both private and public seed sectors are essential to the gathering, they are present primarily as mentors.

  • SOSS is small. The gathering is intentionally limited to 75 attendees or fewer, and the schedule allows time for in-depth, informal conversations as well as thought-provoking programming. This helps to facilitate nuanced discussions and lasting interpersonal connections.

  • SOSS focuses on plant breeding. Plant breeding for resilience in organic systems is the primary focus of many SOSS attendees, but people working on seed quality, seed production, and socioeconomic dimensions of organic seed systems are welcome too.


the STUDENT ORGANIC SEED symposium is made possible with the support of our generous sponsors

At the "Breeder's Seed" sponsorship level:

The Roger Blobaum Student Travel Fund

At the "Foundation Seed" sponsorship level:

At the "Registered Seed" sponsorship level:

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At the "Certified Seed" sponsorship level:

UW-Madison Horticutlure Goldman Lab

UW-MADISON HORTICULTURE DEPARTMENT