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UW field day, tasting dinner feature organic vegetables

Vegetable farmers and interested home gardeners are invited to attend the UW Organic Vegetable Variety Trials Field Day, set for Thursday Aug. 24 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s West Madison Agricultural Research Station. This free, interactive event, which runs from 2:00 – 5:30 p.m., highlights the many organic vegetable variety trials being conducted on the station’s 30 acres of certified organic land.

“This is a chance for growers to see new vegetable varieties in the field and talk directly to the plant breeders and seed companies doing the development work—to learn what’s coming and to make their priorities known,” says event organizer Julie Dawson, a UW-Madison assistant professor of horticulture and UW-Extension urban and regional food systems specialist.

Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the station’s organic vegetable variety trials, see new varieties developed for organic systems and talk to UW-Madison/UW-Extension plant breeders and seed companies about what’s in the pipeline. Seed companies that will be present include High Mowing Organic Seeds, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, PanAmerican Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange and Vitalis Organic Seeds.

The field day will also highlight the progress of the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative project, a UW-Madison-led collaboration among area chefs, farmers and plant breeders to develop improved vegetable varieties with characteristics important to local food systems. These trials include beets, carrots, cucumber, culinary corn, kale, greens, melons, onions, peppers (sweet and hot), winter squash, potatoes and tomatoes (high tunnel and field grown).

Featured variety trials also include those being grown as part of the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative, which focuses on breeding new varieties and identify the best performing existing varieties of spinach, sweet corn, bell peppers, acorn and delicata squash, cabbage and tomatoes.

The field day will be followed by the third annual Farm to Flavor Dinner at the Discovery Building on the UW-Madison campus. The dinner features dishes prepared by Madison-area chefs using some of the top varieties from the various trials. Lane Selman from the Culinary Breeding Network in Portland, Oregon will be the keynote speaker. Tickets are required for the dinner and are available at http://go.wisc.edu/farmtoflavor.

West Madison Agricultural Research Station is located at 8502 Mineral Point Road, Verona, Wisconsin. The Discovery Building is located at 330 North Orchard Street, Madison, Wisconsin.

For more information about the field day and the Farm to Flavor Dinner, visit dawson.horticulture.wisc.edu. Questions can be directed to Julie Dawson at dawson@hort.wisc.edu.

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