The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative
University of Wisconsin-Madison
The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative, led by Julie Dawson, engages plant breeders, farmers and chefs to evaluate and co-create high quality vegetable varieties for organic production in the upper Midwest. Participants set priorities 12 common crops (beets, potato, sweet corn, cucumber, sweet pepper, hot pepper, tomato, melon, winter squash, lettuce, kale and bitter greens), and then evaluate submissions from breeders and seed companies throughout the season. Varieties are selected for the trial based on purported high quality in organic systems, good flavor, and lack of previous trialing in the Midwest.
The Collaborative evaluated over 70 varieties of tomatoes in its first three years. Some favorites came from Keith Mueller, an independent breeder in Missouri. Keith specializes in intensely flavored fruits in every color from bright yellow to the dark purple of his anthocyanin lines. He often incorporates a rare "apricot blush" gene into his lines, which gives a yellow fruit a red-orange "blush" around the base as it ripens.