Novel Open Source Seed Pledge aims to keep new vegetable and grain varieties free for all

Novel Open Source Seed Pledge aims to keep new vegetable and grain varieties free for all

April 15, 2014 by Nicole Miller

Jack Kloppenburg (left), professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, Irwin Goldman (center), chair of the Department of Horticulture, and Claire Luby (right), graduate student in the UW’s Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program, fill envelopes with non-patented seeds in the Horticulture office in Moore Hall.

Photo: Bryce Richter

This week, scientists, farmers and sustainable food systems advocates will gather on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus to celebrate an unusual group of honored guests: 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains that are being publicly released using a novel form of ownership agreement known as the Open Source Seed Pledge.

The pledge, which was developed through a UW-Madison-led effort known as the Open Source Seed Initiative, is designed to keep the new seeds free for all people to grow, breed and share for perpetuity, with the goal of protecting the plants from patents and other restrictions down the line.

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Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

NPR version… some organic seed outfits are making these seeds available; unfortunately NPR doesn’t name them or provide any info on suppliers… which is typical of them

Invite pollinators to your neighborhood …

Invite pollinators to your neighborhood by planting a pollinator friendly habitat in your garden, farm, school, park or just about anywhere!

Starting on Page 16 of the planting guides you can find lists of plant names that will attract pollinators and help you build beautiful pollinator habitat!

Print these lists and bring them to your local native plant, garden center or nursery

These guides were funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the C.S. Fund, the Plant Conservation Alliance, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management with oversight by the Pollinator Partnership, in support of the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign. To learn more about why planting for pollinators is important, click here.

Selecting Plants for Pollinators
Our ecoregional planting guides are tailored to specific areas of the U.S. You can find out which ecoregion you live in by entering your zip code at link above.

Winter ice season is now 24 days shorter than it was in 1950, study finds | Science Recorder

Drought Map for 20140128

Boyo, is California ever in trouble. Keeps up all our veggies are comin’ outta
cans for the duration. Better get your seed catalogues out and plan on tilling
up the entire yard, huh?

Researchers tap syrup potential of walnut and birch trees

By Stacey Shackford

birch Frank Fieber
Harvesting sap from birch trees.

The future of sweet syrup could come from some unlikely sources: birch and walnut trees.

Thanks in part to the efforts of the Cornell Maple Program, many maple producers are starting to explore the untapped potential of walnut and birch trees, which produce sap similar to maple that can also be boiled down into syrup. Nearly 100 sugarmakers attended a recent workshop on the topic at the New York State Maple Conference in Verona.

According to Michael Farrell, director of Cornell’s Uihlein Sugar Maple Research and Extension Field Station in Lake Placid, there are hundreds of millions of tappable birch and walnut trees in the eastern United States, providing a significant opportunity for a valuable forestry crop.

Birch syrup production is particularly well suited for maple producers who have already invested in the equipment and want to extend their season.

“Since the sap in birch trees doesn’t start flowing until the sap flow in maples is ending in April, sugarmakers can use all of their existing equipment to produce another valuable crop of birch syrup as soon as the maple season ends,” Farrell said. “And if we have a poor crop of maple syrup like we did last year, it can provide another opportunity to utilize the land. It’s a way of hedging your bets against a changing climate and unpredictable weather from year to year.”

In 2012, Cornell researchers tapped 400 birch trees and produced about 30 gallons of syrup. Farrell hopes to expand that to 600-700 trees over the next year and develop one of the first major research and extension projects studying the biological, technological, processing and economic aspects of birch and walnut syrup production. Their research objectives include determining optimum tapping times and collection practices; sugar concentrations; consumer preferences; the impact on lumber quality; and whether landowners could earn more from using their trees for syrup or saw timber.

It usually takes 40-50 gallons of maple sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup. The sugar content of birch sap is much lower, requiring 150-200 gallons of sap to yield a gallon of syrup.

It is, therefore, more expensive and time-consuming to produce, but it also commands a steep price: the equivalent of $350 to $400 per gallon, although it is usually sold in 8-ounce bottles in Alaska and Canada where it is produced in limited quantities.

Its intense fruity molasses flavor means birch is unlikely to replace the mighty maple as a pancake syrup, but it does appeal to creative chefs for use in marinades and other culinary treats. Farrell plans to work with a team of chefs and food scientists to create recipes.

As for walnut syrup, the delicacy could easily forge a place of honor on the breakfast table, Farrell said.

“It tastes very much like a lighter maple syrup, with nutty butterscotch overtones,” Farrell said. “It has been very popular among visitors to the sugarhouse. People like it because it’s different. And delicious.”

Farrell is aware of only one person in the United States producing and selling walnut syrup on a commercial scale. “It’s definitely something homeowners can do. I would encourage anyone with access to walnut trees to give it a try,” he said.

For those with just a few birch trees, Farrell suggests drinking and cooking with the sap as they do in many European and Asian countries.

“Birch sap is basically 99 percent water, filtered by tree roots, with a slightly sweet taste and plenty of minerals and nutrients,” he said.

Stacey Shackford is staff writer at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

New method may revolutionize maple syrup industry U Vermont
Remaking Maple: New method may revolutionize maple syrup industry
By Joshua E. Brown

Tim Perkins and Abby van den Berg photo

Last year, the value of Vermont maple syrup was more than $26 million. UVM professors Abby van den Berg and Tim Perkins have revealed an invention that can yield vastly more syrup per acre than what producers currently get from the forest. It starts by cutting the top off a maple sapling. (Photo: Sally McCay)

maple sapling image

A new sap collecting technique invented at the University of Vermont. It could work for maple–or walnut, birch, or even palm trees. (Photo: Sally McCay)

Four years ago, Tim Perkins and Abby van den Berg cut the top off a maple tree. As researchers at the University of Vermont’s Proctor Maple Research Center, they wanted to learn more about sap flow.

Instead, they discovered an entirely new way to make maple syrup. “It’s revolutionary in some ways,” says Perkins.

Their new technique uses tightly spaced plantations of chest-high sugar-maple saplings. These could be single stems with a portion — or all — of the crown removed. Or they could be multiple-stemmed maples, where one stem per tree can be cut each year. Either way, the cut stem is covered with a sealed plastic bag. Under the bag, the sap flows out of the stump under vacuum pressure and into a tube. Voilà, huge quantities of sap.

In short, these plantations can allow maple syrup production in a farm field.

Typically, a traditional sugarbush produces about 40 gallons of maple syrup per acre of forest by tapping, perhaps, 80 mature trees. With this new method, the UVM researchers estimate that producers could get more than 400 gallons of syrup per acre drawing from about 6,000 saplings.

The new technique has the potential to enhance business for existing syrup producers, the researchers think, and defend Vermont’s maple industry from threats that range from climate change to spiking land costs to Asian long-horned beetles.

words fail…

River Roots Farm, Lanesboro, MN
The nectar from 300,000 flowers creates a single ounce of honey. That means 9.6 MILLION flowers are in this quart of honey. Raw honey contains fructose, glucose, water and many nourishing enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.


Ardie’s Harvesting 2013 continued…

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Ardie’s Grapes for Syrup