Seed Workers Organizing group
Are you interested in working and collaborating with other seed stewards to empower seed growers, seed workers, and allies to organize for fair prices, just contracts, better seed ethics practices, agrobiodiversity conservation, and other important goals?
You can join this group by participating in our listserv, monthly meetings, and working groups. To get started, email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the listserv.
If you want to stay updated but don’t want to be involved in organizing, you can sign up for irregular (quarterly?) updates here.
Our monthly Zoom meetings are the first Tuesday of the month at 3pm EST, noon PST. We usually start with short introductions, and we’re excited to hear from new people! We also hear report-backs from working groups and have group discussions about goals, mission, next steps and whatever people want to talk about.
This is a new effort organized primarily for and by seed growers. During the February 2022 Organic Seed Growers Conference, there was a session entitled Labor in the Organic Seed Movement. Participants and organizers of the session wanted to keep meeting and working to improve prospects for seed growers (including pay and contract terms).
We’ve had meetings at least monthly since then, and are in an ongoing process to develop our mission, structure and outreach. We have also formed three working groups:
If you want to join a working group, email the listserv to find out when and how the group is currently meeting and what they’re working on.
As a forming organization, we are still working on the mission statement. Our starting point is: “This group is for empowering seed growers, seed workers, and allies to organize for fair prices, just contracts, better seed ethics practices, agrobiodiversity conservation, and other important goals.” We expect it to change and develop. You are encouraged to provide feedback on our direction and goals via comments on the Google Doc or messages to the listserv.
We are mainly a group of agricultural seed workers, but many of us have multiple roles, and we don’t have concrete guidelines. Some of us grow seeds on contract full time, some part time. Some of us run small farm-based seed companies or are part of seed-selling cooperatives. Some of us are currently more engaged in other seed system work but have background and experience in seed growing. Many of us are actively involved in variety stewardship, variety trials research or plant breeding. We are all dedicated to improving and maintaining seeds that work well on our farms and in our regions, and to being part of quality democratic seed systems.
At this time, we are asking owners and employees of retail seed companies that rely primarily on contracted or bought seed to allow the group to form around the interests of seed growers primarily. If you choose to participate, please do so representing yourself more so than the company you work for. Our current group does include seed farmers who are also co-owners of small farm-based seed companies, including Snake River Seed Cooperative, Common Wealth Seed Growers, Experimental Farm Network, and Adaptive Seeds. It is possible that in the future we will expand to include seed office workers who aren’t involved in agriculture, but it is not our current focus.
Once there is an official name and mission statement, the group could become a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. This could put the group in a better position to receive grants and donations in order to work on future projects. We also have an offer to take over OSGATA’s corporate structure and become a 501(c)4.
We could create systems to encourage seed stewardship so that seed workers can more easily cultivate long-term relationships with seeds instead of short-term economic contracts.
We could work to modify the economic systems that result in historically marginalized farmers rarely economically benefiting from their seed heritage.
We could work together to ensure that farm workers are compensated fairly for their time and expertise in seed production.
We could pioneer branding to create customer markets for deliberately stewarded and adapted seeds.
We could… ?