Organic Seed Alliance

Grow seed for the common good

aka OSA   |   Port Townsend, WA   |  http://www.seedalliance.org

Mission

Organic Seed Alliance advances ethical seed solutions to meet food and farming needs in a changing world.

We accomplish our mission through collaborative research, education and advocacy programs.

We believe that seed is part of our common cultural heritage, a living natural resource that demands careful management to be sustained.

We envision organic seed systems that are democratic and just, support human and environmental health, and deliver genetically diverse and regionally adapted seed to farmers everywhere.

Ruling year info

1975

Executive Director

Cara Loriz

Program Director

Micaela Colley

Main address

PO Box 772

Port Townsend, WA 98368 USA

Show more contact info

Formerly known as

Abundant Life Seed Foundation

EIN

51-0175667

NTEE code info

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (K01)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Agricultural Programs (K20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Over the last four decades, the seed industry has consolidated, and much of our commercial seed is now owned and managed in the hands of a few transnational firms. They’ve reduced farmers’ choices and pushed seed that is genetically modified, grown with pesticides, and restricted by patents. This control has stifled innovation in plant breeding, and creates barriers to improving the availability and integrity of organic seed. For centuries, farmers stewarded seed as a shared resource, saving seeds of the best plants and encouraging improvement when sown again the next year. In the 1900s, industrialized agriculture diminished seed resiliency and biodiversity in favor of yield and uniformity. Today industry consolidation, variety loss, increased prices and patenting have disenfranchised farmers from a resource they stewarded for generations. Our programs remedy these environmental, social and economic challenges, and empower farmers as leaders of a sustainable seed system.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Farmer Education

Through workshops, webinars, conferences and presentations, OSA's Research and Education team teaches thousands of farmers annually how to save seed, improve vegetables and grains and adapt them to their farms.

Population(s) Served
Adults

OSA's Research and Education team works with farmers and university plant breeders to improve organic vegetables and grains for agronomic and culinary traits, and for resilience in the face of climate change on other threats.

Population(s) Served
Farmers

The biennial Organic Seed Growers Conference is the largest organic seed event in the U.S and makes cutting-edge research and policy advocacy, and trade knowledge, techniques and discussions accessible to seed growers and agricultural innovators. The conference provides a full agenda of presentations, panel discussions, and networking events led by experts from around the world.

Population(s) Served
Farmers
Academics

OSA researches and advocates for policies that strengthen organic seed systems and protect farmers rights to grow and save seed. Our advocacy team monitors the state of organic seed nationally and reports on it every five years in the State of Organic Seed Report.

Population(s) Served
Farmers

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Organic food should begin with organic seed. Right now most organic farmers rely on seed that isn't organic. But that's changing, for the good.

Organic farmers produce food differently, and that means they need different seed for the crops they grow: seed developed to thrive without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and adapted to their local climate and soil conditions.

All of our programs embrace collaborative approaches to advancing our mission. We boast long-standing relationships with farmers, non-profit agricultural organizations, university plant breeders, and food and seed suppliers committed to the success of organic agriculture. Our work results in:

• More seed: Improved quality, quantity, and diversity of organic seed available
• More skilled farmers: Increased number of farmers growing seed
• Collaborative research: New models of partnership between farmers and plant breeders, as well as farmers and seed suppliers
• Resources: New publications and online resources that support farmers’ success
• Public education: Increased public knowledge of the importance of seed developed for organic agriculture and farmers’ roles as seed stewards

• Meeting farmers' needs in new regions and connecting them to more resources through a cohesive, national organic seed network
• Enhancing coordinated research, education, and advocacy to increase the professionalism, operating capacity, and success of the organic seed community
• Establishing a program for releasing commercial seed to showcase a model that provides stakeholders incentive for participating and investing in organic seed
• Expanding involvement in sustainable agriculture coalitions to give OSA a bigger voice in advancing policies for the benefit of seed
• Bringing seed education to students and the general public to build broad support for and common knowledge of seed

- Strong relationships with university researchers and seed companies nationwide
- Strong track record of successful research projects to meet USDA-recognized needs for organic
- Strong relationships with other seed and farming advocates
- Staff members recognized within the organic movement for their leadership and expertise
- Conveners of the largest national conference focused solely on organic seed issues and attended by hundreds
- A reputation as a "go to" resource through online publications and webinars used by thousands of seed growers, students and farmers from around the world.

We have made great strides in empowering farmers to grow more organic seed, and in developing organic varieties that are adaptable and have the genetic richness to perform well using organic methods and be resilient as climate conditions change.

We have succeeded in connecting farmers to seed companies and organic food distributors. We have succeeded in convening these players so that they can hear each other and work together to meet the growing demand for organic.

We have developed basic economic tools for seed growers and look forward to refining these and providing more resources to allow farmers to increase the scale of their seed operations.

We have developed a new online organic seed growers directory where seed companies and wholesale buyers can contact with growers to bring more organic seed to the commercial market.

We have sources equipment for several important seed growing regions, and are now working on a replicable model for developing and sharing infrastructure needed to increase the supply of organic seed.

We have built interest in funding a national public education campaign on organic seed and vegetable variety literacy, but have not reached the critical mass needed to move forward with the marketing and advertising work needed for this to achieve the optimal benefit.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    We serve growers and communities who work with seed.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Feedback from attendees of our biennial national conference highlighted the lack of diversity in the organic seed community we convene. This prompted an intensified effort to provide scholarships to Black, Indigenous and People of Color seed growers and a significantly increase in the diversity of attendees in 2020 and programming centered on equity issues.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    We have been data driven since our early years and have long valued feedback from our constituents to target programs that meet their needs. Taking the next steps to shift power is a new priority for us as we increase our constituent engagement in the program planning and decision-making process.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,

Financials

Organic Seed Alliance
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Organic Seed Alliance

Board of directors
as of 11/2/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Sebastian Aguillar

Chickadee and Greenbank farms

Sebastian Aguillar

Chickadee and Greenbank farms

Amy Grondin

Sustainable Seafood Consultant

Ira Wallace

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

Adrienne Shelton

Vitalis Organic Seeds

Adam Wagner

Organically Grown Company

Heron Breen

FEDCO Seed Co

Brijette Pena

San Diego Seed Co

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/02/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 11/02/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.