For Gardeners

Gardeners can participate in many of the same trials as farmers, on a smaller scale. In addition, we have several Master Gardener groups, educational gardens and community garden groups participating in our trials.

Happy New Year! We are currently in preparations for the 2023 field season. In 2020 we were able to send out on-farm trials but were not able to conduct the research station trials due to COVID restrictions, and in 2021 we had a very limited number of on-station trials. Due to the limited amount of data from on-station trials and the expansion of our collaborative breeding project with the Organic Seed Alliance and SeedLinked, we are primarily offering trials focused on breeding new varieties for 2022 and 2023.

Our trials this year will include two different tomato breeding trials, a pepper breeding trial and potato trials with breeding lines from the University of Wisconsin program. Our trials are still in the planning phase so registration is not open, but you can find their descriptions below. We will also provide links to sign up for other crops through SeedLinked, which are run by other trialling programs in the Upper Midwest. See below for the list of upcoming trials for 2023!

We send each farm all the seeds they need for their trial as well as stakes, a planting map and datasheets. Farmers manage the trial as they would manage their normal crop. The research station trials are managed organically, and while we prefer that farmers manage their trial without pesticides so that we get good observations on disease resistance, there is no requirement for participants to be certified organic.

We are working with Seedlinked to make on-farm trials easier and results more immediate. Trial links will take you to the SeedLinked website to complete your trial request. SeedLinked works in any web browser, on a computer or smartphone. Seedlinked also has iPhone and Android apps so that you can do trial ratings and take photos of entries on your smartphone offline, and automatically uploads data when you have a wifi connection. A benefit of using SeedLinked is that you can see all trial results as soon as you have completed the trial, rather than waiting for us to process all the data. You always have the option to collect observations on paper, but we encourage you to try the app, it makes the trials logistically much simpler for all of us!

Seed photos and non-gmo statements for organic certification for each year are shared on this page. All trial varieties are also planted on our certified organic land. We will also share more information about all trial varieties.

2023 Seed to Kitchen On-Farm Trial Information

Below are the trials we will be offering in 2023! Please note that the links for registration are currently inactive, we will notify everyone once they are open.

The links will take you to the SeedLinked site for the trial. We are using the SeedLinked trial platform for data collection. If you would like to be part of the trial without using SeedLinked please contact us at the email address below.

We will ship seeds by the end of February

If you would like to be added to the email list to get project announcements, results and information on trials next year, please email seedtokitchen@hort.wisc.edu. Thanks!

Breeding Trials:

  Doe Hill x Wisconsin Lakes small bell pepper project Participate in the early phases of selection with a cross of Doe Hill and Wisconsin Lakes! This trial is continuing from last year, but all are welcome to join.

This population was created by Kitt Healy of the Organic Seed Alliance with parental varieties from Hudson Valley Seed Company and Nature and Nurture Seeds. Our goal is to produce a sweet bell pepper with the unique flavor of Doe Hill in a larger size. At this stage we have selected for a couple years and all lines in this trial represent the best of what was grown in 2022, but there is still room for improvement! You will be evaluating traits such as flavor, yield, and earliness to help develop the best new variety possible.

The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, Organic Seed Alliance and SeedLinked are partnering to test a new collaborative breeding strategy to develop high performing varieties for the Upper Midwest. By joining this trial, you will be tracking 3-6 plants each from 3 breeding lines selected from this population during last year's trial and 2-4 plants of a standard variety, Snackabelle Red, for comparison. You will have the option of selecting plants within these lines or just providing feedback on the performance of each line.

The Doe Hill x Wisconsin Lakes population is pledged under the open-source seed initiative (OSSI). Please find more information on OSSI at https://osseeds.org. You have the freedom to use OSSI- Pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means, and to include the OSSI Pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.

  Juliet x Blush Tomato lines with Nature and Nurture Seeds Participate in the mid phases of selection with a cross of Juliet x Blush! This trial is a continuation from last year, but all are welcome to join.

The goal of this cross is to develop an open-pollinated red or red-striped saladette tomato similar to Juliet. At this stage we have selected for a couple years and all lines in this trial represent the best of what was grown in 2022, but there is still room for improvement! You will be evaluating traits such as flavor, yield, earliness, and disease resistance to help develop the best new variety possible.

Erica Kempter of Nature and Nurture Seeds, the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, Organic Seed Alliance and SeedLinked are partnering to test a new collaborative breeding strategy to develop high performing varieties for the Upper Midwest. By joining this trial, you will plant 3-6 plants from three lines selected from last years trials and 2-4 plants of one of the parent varieties. You will have the option of selecting plants within these lines or just providing feedback on the performance of each line.

The Juliet x Blush population is open-source seed initiative (OSSI) pledged under the name Super Snacks. Please find more information on OSSI at https://osseeds.org. You have the freedom to use OSSI- Pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means, and to include the OSSI Pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.

  Mid generation tomatoes -- cocktail sized orange/red with KC Tomato Participate in the mid stages of selection for a new cocktail tomato! This trial is a continuation from last year, but all are welcome to join.

Keith Mueller of KC Tomatoes, the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, Organic Seed Alliance and SeedLinked are partnering to test a new collaborative breeding strategy to develop high performing varieties for the Upper Midwest. This population includes cocktail sized to medium sized fruit, predominantly bicolor orange/red. By joining this trial, you will be tracking 3-6 plants each from 3 lines selected from this population during last year's trial and 2-4 plants of a standard variety for comparison. You will have the option of selecting plants within these lines or just providing feedback on the performance of each line.

This population is open-source seed initiative (OSSI) pledged. Please find more information on OSSI at https://osseeds.org. You have the freedom to use OSSI- Pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means, and to include the OSSI Pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.

Variety Trials:

Links for the variety trials are not active yet.

  Red potatoes This trial will compare red-skinned potato varieties for their suitability for organic production in the Midwest conditions, and focuses on commercially available varieties including established standards, newer releases, and a new Wisconsin breeding line. You will receive a subset of the trial varieties and will grow 10 plants for each of three varieties. Provide feedback on variety vigor, pest resistance, yield, marketability and flavor, with the option of providing feedback on storability. The University of Wisconsin Potato Breeding Program requires a Materials Transfer Agreement from trial participants who receive potato breeding lines, specifying that you will not save seed potatoes from these lines. You are free to sell potatoes from these lines into your usual produce markets or keep them for your own use.

  Yellow potatoes This trial will compare yellow potato varieties for their suitability for organic production in the Midwest conditions, and focuses on commercially available varieties including established standards and newer releases. You will receive a subset of the trial varieties and will grow 10 plants for each of three varieties. Provide feedback on variety vigor, pest resistance, yield, marketability and flavor, with the option of providing feedback on storability. The University of Wisconsin Potato Breeding Program requires a Materials Transfer Agreement from trial participants who receive potato breeding lines, specifying that you will not save seed potatoes from these lines. You are free to sell potatoes from these lines into your usual produce markets or keep them for your own use.

  Russet potatoes This trial will compare russet potato varieties for their suitability for organic production in the Midwest conditions, and focuses on commercially available varieties including established standards, newer releases and a new Wisconsin breeding line. You will receive a subset of the trial varieties and will grow 10 plants for each of three varieties. Provide feedback on variety vigor, pest resistance, yield, marketability and flavor, with the option of providing feedback on storability. The University of Wisconsin Potato Breeding Program requires a Materials Transfer Agreement from trial participants who receive potato breeding lines, specifying that you will not save seed potatoes from these lines. You are free to sell potatoes from these lines into your usual produce markets or keep them for your own use.

  Specialty potatoes This trial will compare specialty potato varieties for their suitability for organic production in the Midwest conditions, and focuses on commercially available varieties including established standards, newer releases, and a new Wisconsin breeding line. You will receive a subset of the trial varieties and will grow 10 plants for each of three varieties. Provide feedback on variety vigor, pest resistance, yield, marketability and flavor, with the option of providing feedback on storability. The University of Wisconsin Potato Breeding Program requires a Materials Transfer Agreement from trial participants who receive potato breeding lines, specifying that you will not save seed potatoes from these lines. You are free to sell potatoes from these lines into your usual produce markets or keep them for your own use.

Interested in other crops? Check out these trials also offered through Seedlinked!

  2023 SeedLinked Specialty Moschata Trial - Comparing Tillage Winter squash varieties have been anectdotally reported to perform very differently in full vs reduced tillage systems. In this trial we are testing 7 specialty moschata types, from exciting new releases to underappreciated heirlooms. This trial includes Lodi, Koginut, Autumn Frost, Long Island Cheese, Black Futsu, Autumn Crown, Seminole, Doran Round, and Gouda Winter Squash varieties (all either untreated or certified organic). Everyone loves butternut, but specialty Cucurbita moschata squash can be even more delicious than usual butternuts, and their unique shapes make them a perfect decorative piece on a kitchen or farmers market table. Growers will receive a subset of 3 varieties, 10 seeds each, and are asked to plant at least 3 individuals of each type in the same setting. In this trial we are especially interested in comparing standard tillage vs reduced tillage systems, so be sure to fill out the management survey at the end of the trial, and plant in no-till (AKA no-dig) beds if you have them available.

  2023 SeedLinked Cherry Tomato Trial The 2023 SeedLinked Cherry Tomato Trial features 12 new varieties from some of the industry’s most innovative breeders, such as Panam Seeds, Nature and Nuture, Seed Savers Exchange and Wild Mountain Seeds. From picture-perfect reds to striped or anthocyanin-blushed cherry tomatoes, participants will receive a subset of 3 unique varieties to compare, and 10 seeds of each variety will be shipped out the first week of March 2023. Growers are asked to plant at least 3 plants per variety in the same setting. The plant breeders have a special interest in comparing open field/garden and hoop house/caterpillar tunnel environments, so be sure to fill out the management info at the end of the trial season! This trial is only open to US growers. Seed will be shipped mid February.