8:00 am08:00

Seed School - an affiliated event by the Organic Seed Alliance

SOSS partner organization Organic Seed Alliance will host a one-day seed school at the UC Davis student farm.  Learn how to develop new varieties and produce commercial quality seed.  Topics will include crop planning, harvesting, cleaning, population size, isolation distance, basic breeding and variety trialing for both self-pollinated and cross-pollinated crops.

8:30 am08:30

Optional Field Tours

Field tours explore quinoa and rice production at Lundberg Family Farms and organic hops breeding at the Sierra Nevada brewery. The conference officially opens with a welcome talk on the evening of Friday 11th: A California Seed Industry Primer.

8:00 am08:00

Conference Day 1

Field tours explore tree fruit and tree nut breeding at Wolfskill Experimental Orchards, regional breeding and testing nurseries of global companies, and seed and vegetable production (with farm-to-table appetizers!) at Del Rio Botanicals. In the evening, updates on funding initiatives in public plant breeding and organic seed research followed by a picnic dinner.

8:00 am08:00

Conference Day 2

A field tour takes in the SOSS plots at UC Davis Student Farm, giving participants a chance to talk about their research. A communications workshop will help students represent their scientific opinions effectively, even under pressure. A chef-led culinary event showcases diverse and unusual vegetable, fruit and grain varieties. In the evening, a keynote address by special guest Salvatore Ceccarelli closes the conference.

8:00 am08:00

Optional Field Tours

Field tours explore vegetable breeding and testing nurseries and seed cleaning facilities of Vitalis Seed; organic garlic breeding; and an overview of current issues in “the Salad Bowl of the World” at the Monterey County UC Extension Center.  The day ends with some relaxation time at San Pedro Square Market.

8:00 am08:00

Coastal Northern Maine Field Trip

Monday, August 8th

7:45 am Depart Colby College 

10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Tour of Four Season Farm in Harborside, ME with Clara Coleman, Eliot Coleman, and Barbara Damrosch

1:00-2:00 p.m. - Lunch in Blue Hill, ME

3:40 p.m.  - Maine Grains tour in Skowhegan, ME

7:30 p.m. - Dinner in Portland, ME

Lodge in Portland


Aug 7

Student Organic Seed Symposium 2016

Saturday, August 6th, 2016

8:00 a.m. Breakfast at Colby College 

8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Visit student plots at Johnny's Selected Seeds where SOSS participants have 'live in the ground' breeding material to share and will present on their research. We will also learn about the plant breeding projects currently ongoing at Johnny's.

12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Lunch by Wicked Good Street Kitchen at Johnny's

1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Return to Colby College. Digging it: Dr. Kristine Nichols

3:00 p.m. - 3:15 p.m. Break

3:15 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. Making waves: An advocacy panel with Dr. Bill Tracy and Kiki Hubbard

4:45 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Seed swap & poster session

5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Dinner at Colby College's Johnson Pond Picnic Area  and Keynote speaker Jim Gerritsen

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

8:00 a.m. -  Breakfast at Colby College

8:45 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. - Winds of change: Dr. Janny Van Beem

10:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Break

10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. - SOSS business meeting and steering committee update

12:00 p.m. - Lunch

1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. - Lighting the fire: Jane Rabinowicz

2:30 p.m. - Local field trips to Wild Folk Farm

4:00 p.m. - Fedco trial site tour

6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. - Dinner by Dandelion Catering and Keynote speaker Theresa Podoll at the MOFGA fairgrounds in Unity, ME


9:00 am09:00

Johnny's Selected Seeds Tour

Johnny's Selected Seeds Tour

Join us for a pre-SOSS tour of Johnny's Selected Seeds in Winslow, ME! This is your chance to learn the ins and outs of a long established seed company. We will be touring seed production fields, talking with plant breeders, and seeing their warehouse and shipping facilities. Johnny's is only a few miles away from Colby College, where SOSS is being held this year. 

9:00 AM - 4:00 PM Tour of Johnny's Selected Seeds with lunch provided by Dandelion Catering

5:00 - 7:00 PM Dinner at Colby College and a Maine speaker panel

SOSS 2016 officially begins with a catered dinner at Colby College. To set the tone and familiarize us, we have a panel of speakers from Maine who are involved in organic agriculture and seeds. We will be hearing from Will Bonsall of Scatterseed Project, Jim Gerritsen of Wood Prairie Farm, and Neil Lash of Medomak Valley High School's Heirloom Seed Project 


7:30 am07:30

SOSS 2015 Optional Field Trip: Seed Savers Exchange

  • Seed Savers Exchange
Seed Savers Exchange Field Trip

*Subject to change*

Thursday, August 13

7:30 am - Depart from Leopold Hall
(Load all luggage on bus- not returning to Leopold Hall)

11:00 am – Arrive Seed Savers Exchange 
Meet at Lillian Goldman Visitors’ Center

11:15 am – History of SSE, Tour of facilities and gardens
Toby Cain - Education Coordinator
Grant Olson - Public Programs Manager

12:30 pm – Lunch & Seed Activity
Catered by Water Street Cafe
Invite SSE staff to eat with us

1:30pm – Preservation Lab
Tim Johnson, PhD - Seed Bank Manager

1:50pm – Seed Stories & Robert Becker Memorial Library
Sara Straate - Seed Historian

2:10pm - Greenhouse Tour
Amy Holmgren - Greenhouse Manager

2:30pm - Tomato Tasting
Phil Kauth - Assistant Curator

2:50pm - Seed House Tour

3:30pm – Orchard Tour
Dan Bussey - Orchard Manager

4:30pm – Depart for Pepperfield Project
5:00pm – Arrive Pepperfield Project
Tour / talk with David Cavagnaro

5:45pm – Dinner

6:45pm – Depart for Madison
10:00pm – Arrive Madison

6:30 pm18:30

Science Cafe

  • Goodman Center

Green Genes: Seed Breeding for Organic Agriculture

A Science Cafe is a place for informal, jargon-free conversation between scientists and the general public. In our case, we’ll bring together SOSS plant breeding scientists and Madison’s community of gardeners, farmers, and curious eaters for a moderated Q&A about seeds, breeding, technology, and the future of our food system. Kids welcome!

Date: Monday, August 10, 2015
Time: Doors open 6:30 pm. Program 7:00 pm-8:00 pm. Mingling afterwards.
Cost: Free.
A cash bar with beer, wine, and non-alcoholic beverages will be available.

The Science Cafe will feature:

  • Organic plant breeding trivia
  • Quick, powerpoint-less conversation-starters from our panel of plant breeders
  • Large group Q&A
  • Mingling, conversation, and some laughs
Aug 13

SOSS 2015

  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Frank Holt Center


*Subject to change*  

Visit the SOSS Speakers page for speaker bios and descriptions of field trip destinations.

Sunday, August 9

Noon - 4:00- Check-In
5:00 - Welcome Dinner
Catered by Bunky’s Catering
Opening Remarks - Dr. Irwin Goldman - University of Wisconsin-Madison 
8:00 - Bonfire - Picnic Point

Monday, August 10

7:30 -8:30 - Breakfast
8:45 - Michael Sligh - RAFI
9:30 - Adrienne Shelton - High Mowing Organic Seeds & UW-Madison
10:15 - Break & Seed Swap
10:45 - Rob Johnston - Johnny's Selected Seeds
11:30 - Lunch
1:00-5:00 - Field Trials - West Madison Agricultural Research Station
Student Demonstration Plots
Dr. Julie Dawson, Dr. Phil Simon, Dr. Erin Silva, Dr. Bill Tracy
5:45 - Dinner - Goodman Community Center
Catered by Working Class Catering
7:00 - Science Cafe
Green Genes: Seed Breeding for Organic Agriculture

Tuesday, August 11

6:30 - Boxed breakfast
7:00am - 6:00pm 
Organic Valley
Annake Ramsey, Logan Peterman, Theresa Marquez
Vermont Valley Potato Seed
David Perkins, Jesse Perkins
Vermont Valley Community Farm
Barb Perkins
A.P. Whaley Seed Company
Aaron Whaley
6:30 - BBQ Picnic Dinner
8:00 - Memorial Union Terrace
Optional social time

Wednesday, August 12

7:30 -8:30 - Breakfast
8:45 - Dr. Lori Hoagland - Purdue University
9:30 - Ira Wallace - Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
10:15 - Break & Seed Swap
10:30 -SOSS 2016 Planning Committee Meeting
11:00 - Student Research Presentations
12:00 - Lunch
1:00 - Chef-Breeder Workshop
Jonny Hunter - Underground Food Collective
Dan Bonanno - Pig in a Fur Coat
Francesco Mangiale - Osteria Papavero
2:30 - Break
3:00 - Alfonso del Rio - UW-Madison
3:40 - Claire Luby - UW-Madison
4:20 - Closing Remarks
Tom Stearns - High Mowing Organic Seeds
6:00 - Closing Dinner at Vilas Park
Catered by Underground Catering

8:00 am08:00


  • West Madison Agricultural Research Station

Organic Seed School

Sunday, August 9th, 2015
7:30 am - 4:00 pm
West Madison Agricultural Research Station, 8502 Mineral Point Road, Verona WI
Registration: $20

Whether you’re a gardener looking to create your own varieties, a farmer interested in seed production, or a curious eater hoping to understand more about your food system, Organic Seed School is designed for you!


7:30 am – Registration at West Madison Field Station (light refreshments)
8:00 am – Welcome and Introductions, Seed School History/Overview
8:10 - 8:50 am – Pollination Biology: Flower Anatomy, Selfers and Crossers
          Moderator - John Navazio
8:50 - 10:20 am – Seed Company Presentations
          High Mowing Organic Seeds
         Johnny’s Selected Seeds
         Bejo Seeds
         Fruition Seeds
         Vitalis Organic Seeds
         AP Whaley Seed Co.
        Albert Lea Seed
10:20 - 10:40 am – Seed Company Exhibition and Break (light refreshments)
10:40 - 11:20 am – Potato varieties and the Importance of Producing High-Quality Seed Potatoes
        Moderator -  Dr Doug Rouse
11:20 am - 12:00 pm – Seed Cleaning Demonstration
       Moderator - Aaron Whaley
12:00 - 1:00 pm – Lunch and Informal Discussion


1:00 - 1:40 pm – Session 1
        Group 1-  Corn breeding demonstration with Bill Tracy
        Group 2-  Carrot breeding demonstration with Phil Simon
        Group 3-  Tomato breeding demonstration with Julie Dawson

1:50 - 2:30 pm – Session 2
         Group 3-  Corn breeding demonstration with Bill Tracy
         Group 1-  Carrot breeding demonstration with Phil Simon
         Group 2-  Tomato breeding demonstration with Julie Dawson

2:40 - 3:20 pm – Session 3
         Group 2-  Corn breeding demonstration with Bill Tracy
         Group 3-  Carrot breeding demonstration with Phil Simon
         Group 1-  Tomato breeding demonstration with Julie Dawson

3:30 - 4:00 pm – Closing Remarks and Tasting