Julie Dawson / Weston Roundtable (Feb. 21, 2023)
From Eric Klister
Recent disruptions to global supply chains have made everyone more aware of potential risks to food supplies from international events and climate change. One strategy to achieve greater resilience is to build robust regional food systems. Food systems have many interconnected components, with entwined human and biological systems. This talk will focus on regional seed systems, as seed is fundamental to our ability to build strong food systems.
The current seed industry is highly consolidated, with limited regional control. This decreases the diversity of varieties, which impacts farmers’ ability to find varieties that are well adapted to their conditions, particularly for smaller scale and organic farms. There is a critical need to build capacity for greater participation in the development of varieties for sustainable, regional farming systems.
We have built a network of farmers and other actors in the food system who are interested in selecting varieties for quality and performance in our region, particularly in diversified organic systems. The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative began in 2014 with a small group of farmers, plant breeders and chefs, and has grown to include perennial crops and grains, as well as the involvement of gardeners and partnerships with other groups working for similar goals in different regions. While seed is only one component of the overall system, it provides a model for greater public engagement in many aspects of regional food systems.
The Weston Roundtable is made possible by a generous donation from Roy F. Weston, a highly accomplished UW-Madison alumnus. Designed to promote a robust understanding of sustainability science, engineering, and policy, these interactive lectures are co-sponsored by the Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment (SAGE), the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Office of Sustainability.