Evaluation of Lines from a Farmer Participatory Organic Wheat Breeding Program

Involving farmers directly in early-generation selection may contribute to the development of well-adapted organic wheat germplasm. This project involved a partnership between a professional breeder and farmers. This preliminary study shows the potential of partnerships like this to produce wheat germplasm for organic production. Results also confirm the value of certain conventional cultivars to organic production.

Read the article here

2018 Survey Report: Canadian Organic and Ecological Plant Breeding Priorities for Vegetable Crops

In collaboration with the University of British Columbia Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, we are pleased to provide the first assessment across Canada of the plant breeding needs and priorities of vegetable producers who use organic and/or ecological production practices. This report is based on the results of the Canadian Vegetable Plant Breeding Priorities Survey, conducted in February 2018. We hope that this report helps to inform future efforts that support plant breeding, variety development, and farmer-led seed systems for organic/ecological farming in Canada. Please note this report is available only in English.

Click here to read the full report.

Results of an Evaluation of National Participatory Potato Breeding Selections Conducted in the Centre-du-Québec Region (2017)

In 2013, 6 farmers began conducting on-farm selection to develop organic potato varieties adapted to their on-farm conditions and market needs. In 2017, collaborating with with CETAB+ (the Centre d'expertise et de transfers en agriculture biologique et de proximité) in Quebec, we conducted a replicated trial comparing farmer-selected potato lines with standard check varieties.  This slide deck shows research results for characteristics such as vigour and maturity, disease susceptibility, nutritional analysis and more. This work was funded by the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) through an engage grant for colleges  (Subventions d'engagement partenarial in french). 

Access the slide deck here (translated from French).

PPB Oat Selection Manual

PPB farmers select their populations based on agronomics and disease characteristics, and the selection criteria is likely to differ from farmer to farmer. Each individual farmer may choose to focus on certain characteristics that are of great importance to them, for example competitiveness with weeds or rust resistance. This practical manual provides more information and tips about how to select oat populations as part of the PPB program.

Click here to read the manual.

Click here to download the Crop Scout Calendar for oat.

PPB Wheat Selection Manual

PPB farmers are encouraged to practice a combination of negative and positive selection. Selection may be conducted shortly before harvest or throughout the growing season - the timing will really depend on the farmer's goals. This selection manual provides more information and tips about how to select wheat populations as part of the PPB program.

Click here to read the manual.

Click here to download the Crop Scout Calendar for wheat.


Farmer-breeders in the Prairie Provinces have been selecting populations of wheat, since 2011. In the summer of 2014, wheat populations selected by farmers in the prairie were evaluated at the University of Manitoba's Carman Research Farm to determine their agronomic and quality characteristics, alongside some traditionally bred "check varieties." The results are in! In short… "The results of this study indicate that farmer selected populations are better adapted to organic crop production than conventionally selected varieties."

Click here to read the full report.


Farmer participatory breeding works best when we start with a diverse population of tubers created by crossing distant parents. In our program, this process is overseen by Dr. Duane Falk in Ontario. Duane is a plant breeder, recently retired from the University of Guelph. He conducts his work on his research farm in southern Ontario.

Click here to read the full manual

Partners in Organic Innovation

Partners in Organic Innovation: A Conversation with Jane Rabinowicz & Helen Jensen. This article (July 2015), from the Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada, Dalhousie University providesa great overview of the Partcipatory Plant Breeding Program in Canada. It includes good information on the program's rationale, partners, and progress to date. Please note the article is available in English only.

On-farm Wheat and Oat Breeding: Tips for making selections

On-farm Wheat and Oat Breeding: Tips for making selections. The purpose of making selections is to retain plants with desirable characteristics while removing those exhibiting negative characteristics. The plants that you select to harvest seed from will produce the next generation of your population. This document gives an overview of how plant breeders make selections and provides tips for making selections on your farm.

Our 4-page "Primer"

Our 4-page "Primer" on the Participatory Plant Breeding Project provides a great introduction to the rationale for this project.


Growers in British Columbia are working to increase the viability of growing local organic and ecological carrot seed using high tunnel isolation structures. They hope to address the challenges posed by Queen Anne's Lace cross-pollination, as well as define a set of best practices for increasing the yield of regionally adapted seed through the potential of growing out multiple carrot varieties without crossing. Included in this report is an overview of the carrot physiology as well as a concise outline of growing carrots for seed. Anecdotes from the growing season are woven throughout the report to offer further detail. Data was collected from the four participating farms and analyzed to provide documentation and insight as this project steps into its second year.

Click here to read the report.


A researcher at Cornell University has recently completed a study on "sensory quality" of local sourdough varieties, grown in the northeast. The bake and taste tests reveal some interesting results, and provide a unique model for this work because it was carried out with a group of 7 artisanal bakers who developed the methods collaboratively - a participatory process. Lisa Kissing Kucek was a presenter at the 2014 Seed Connections conference in Quebec.

Click here to read the report. Click here to check out the website. Click here to watch Lisa's ECOSGN presentation.