soss 2016 Speakers

Jim Gerritsen

Jim Gerritsen and his family have owned and operated Wood Prairie Family Farm as an isolated organic farm in Aroostook County, Maine for 40 years.  MOFGA-certified organic since 1982, the Gerritsens grow organic early-generation Maine Certified Seed Potatoes, seed crops, vegetables and grain.  They primarily sell their organic seed crops through a mail order catalog and web-based business to customers in all fifty States. Jim co-founded and has served as longtime President of the national farmer-run membership trade organization, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA).  OSGATA served as lead plaintiff in the landmark Federal lawsuit, OSGATA et al v. Monsanto. In the past, Jim served as President of Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) and for twenty-five years served on the MOFGA Certification Committee.  Jim was instrumental in helping MOFGA pass Maine’s mandatory GMO Labeling law in 2013, the second such law in the United States.  In 2011, Jim was named one of ‘25 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World’ by Utne Reader.  Jim was a participant in both of the weeklong Agrarian Elders Gatherings in Big Sur, California in 2014 and 2016. Jim spoke in NYC before the United Nations General Assembly in 2014 about the advantages of organic farming.

Kiki hubbard

Kristina (Kiki) Hubbard is the director of advocacy and communications for Organic Seed Alliance. She's worked for more than a decade as a researcher, writer, and organizer on projects involving agricultural biotechnology, antitrust issues in the seed industry, and organic seed. Hubbard leads OSA's efforts to promote policies that support the growth and success of organic seed systems across the US and is co-author of State of Organic Seed, 2016. She lives in Missoula, Montana, with her husband and son.

Neil lash

Neil Lash is the co-founder and current director of the Heirloom Seed Project at Medomak Valley High School in Waldoboro, Maine.  This nationally recognized project highlights seeds saved for their historical stories.  The latest part of the project is growing plants featured in the National Academy of Sciences book, "Lost Crops of the Incas".


Dr. Kris Nichols is Chief Scientist at the Rodale Institute where she has performed extensive research on the impact of sustainable management practices such as livestock grazing, tillage, crop rotation, cover crops, and organic production on soil health. She also researches the impact of microbes on plant health, soil structure, and soil composition. She received a Ph.D in Soil Science from the University of Maryland in 2003 and has worked as a Soil Microbiologist at the USDA Northern Great Plains Research Laboratory.

Theresa Podoll

Theresa is a long-standing grassroots leader in plant breeding for organic agriculture, participatory plant breeding, and organic seed production. She owns Prairie Road Organic Seed in Fullerton, North Dakota where she breeds varieties adapted to the Northern Plains region on her farm that has been certified organic since 1977. She has collaborated substantially with national organizations such as the Organic Seed Alliance and Family Farmers Seed Cooperative to disseminate seed and conduct participatory research. She serves as the co-organizer of the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society (NPSAS) Farmer-Breeder Club and is the former head of NPSAS. Through her commitment to human health, biodiversity, and sustainability her work continues to further connect and strengthen the organic seed community.

Jane Rabinowicz

Jane Rabinowicz is Director for the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security at USC Canada. Having collaborated with seed and food actors to develop the Initiative throughout 2012, she is now spearheading its implementation in partnership with Seeds of Diversity Canada, regional organizational partners, farmers, researchers and advisors across the country. Along with her role at USC Canada, Jane works with the Silver Dollar Foundation and sits on the Board of Directors of Centraide. Prior to her current work Jane was Director of Development at Equiterre from 2010-2011 and Executive Director of Santropol Roulant from 2005-2010.

Bill tracy

Bill Tracy is the Clif Bar Family Foundation - Organic Valley Professor of Organic Plant Breeding and chair of the dept. of agronomy, UW-Madison. He received B.S. and M.S. degrees in plant and soil science from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a Ph.D. in plant breeding from Cornell University. Bill’s research is on sweet corn improvement. Bill has developed sweet corn varieties that are grown commercially on every continent (except Antarctica). Bill and his collaborators have developed sweet corn hybrids and open pollinated varieties for organic growers. Bill has had the pleasure of mentoring more than 40 graduate students most of whom work in commercial plant breeding with some dedicated to breeding in organic systems. In 2014 Bill was named public plant breeder of the year by the National Association of Commercial Plant Breeders. Bill has been active in the Seeds and Breeds group and is chair of the Maize Crop Germplasm Committee and the International Maize Germplasm Resources Advisory Committee and was a member of the administrative council of NC-SARE, and the board of Organic Seed Alliance.

Janny Van Beem

Janny joined the Crop Trust in August 2014. She is responsible for the development and implementation of Quality and Risk Management Systems (QMS) covering relevant aspects of Center genebank activities to ensure high standards in the conservation and distribution of plant genetic resources. Janny holds a doctorate degree from Cornell University in plant breeding/genetics, and has worked at CIMMYT, CIAT and CIP in breeding and conservation of maize, beans, wheat and potato. Former expertise includes quality management and supervision of ISO-accredited systems (ISO/IEC 17025:2005) and liaison with national commissions in Mexico and Peru for the protection and equitable sharing of plant genetic resources and their traditional knowledge. She is a national of Colombia.

past speakers


Alfonso del Rio, USDA/ARS US Potato Gene Bank
Irwin Goldman, University of Wisconsin- Madison
Lori Hoagland, Purdue University
Rob Johnston, Johnny's Selected Seeds
Claire Luby, University of Wisconsin- Madison
Theresa Marquez, Organic Valley
Barb, David, and Jesse Perkins, Vermont Valley Community Farm
Logan Peterman, Organic Valley
Annake Ramsey, Organic Valley
Adrienne Shelton, High Mowing Organic Seeds
Michael Sligh, Rural Advancement Foundation International and National Organic Standards Board
Tom Stearns, High Mowing Organic Seeds
Ira Wallace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Aaron Whaley, A.P. Whaley Seed Company


Albert Culbreath, University of Georgia
Jane Dever, Texas A&M
R. Ford Denison, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Major Goodman, North Carolina State University
Humberto Rios Labrada, International Centre for development oriented Research in Agriculture (ICRA)
Mark Sorrells, Cornell University
Edith T. Lammerts Van Bueren, Louis Bolk Institute and Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Jared Zystro, Organic Seed Alliance


Micaela Colley, Organic Seed Alliance
Julie Dawson, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Matthew Dillon, Seed Matters
Irwin Goldman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Patrick Hayes, Oregon State University
Kristina Hubbard, Organic Seed Alliance
Nash Huber, Nash's Organic Produce
Molly Jahn, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Stephen Jones, Washington State University
Jack Kloppenburg, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Brian Love, Seminis
Frank Morton, Wild Garden
Kevin Murphy, Washington State University
Jim Myers, Oregon State University
John Navazio, Organic Seed Alliance
Erica Renaud, Vitalis Organic Seed
Jules Riske, Osborne Seed
Tom Stearns, High Mowing Organic Seeds
Lindsey du Toit, Washington State University
Bill Tracy, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Julie Dawson, Cornell University
Matthew Dillon, Seed Matters
Irwin Goldman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Rob Johnston and Janika Eckert, Johnny's Selected Seeds
Stephen Jones, Washington State University
Jack Kloppenburg, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jodi Lew-Smith, High Mowing Organic Seeds
Michael Mazourek, Cornell University
John Navazio, Organic Seed Alliance
Erica Renaud, Vitalis Organic Seeds
Tom Stearns, High Mowing Organic Seeds
Bill Tracy, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jared Zystro, Organic Seed Alliance