Breeding open source or public domain, open-pollinated vegetables is more of a public service than an economic activity. Donations of any size are valuable. Do you like the work I've been doing? Can you help? If so, please send your donation to Carol Deppe, 7263 NW Valley View Dr., Corvallis OR 97330. (Or send your donation along with your order.)

Patrons needed.

It has become obvious that I can't do the plant breeding I want to do with my current resources. My book royalty income has dropped dramatically in recent years. And Fertile Valley Seeds, at its current size, is more effective as a means of distributing my varieties and information about them than as a source of income. And any attempt to expand it to a more profitable size takes it to a size that has proved to be beyond what I can handle.

I believe that because of changes in late blight lines, it's going to become impossible to grow all heirloom tomatoes outdoors almost everywhere in North America within the next 5 to 10 years. None of the heirlooms have adequate defenses against late blight. There are commercial late blight resistant varieties produced by university breeders and big seed companies. But these are all in the form of hybrids, not open pollinated varieties. Worse yet, they pretty much all taste awful. They are bred to have uniform gorgeous color, which requires the u gene (uniform shoulders). The u gene actually causes sugar content and aromatics (flavor) to drop. In addition the commercial varieties usually have tough, unpalatable skins for resistance to damage in handling and shipping, and additional genes associated with slow ripening that confer longer shelf life, but also destroy flavor. That is not what most gardeners want to grow and eat.

I've begun a major project that involves crossing major genetics for late blight resistance as well as resistance to other major diseases into a large repertoire of heirloom varieties. My basic plan is to cross resistant hybrids to each of a couple dozen heirlooms, backcross once to the respective heirlooms, choose the offspring that carry an appropriate repertoire of late blight and other disease resistance genes, take those to the F2, OSSI-Pledge these lots as breeding material, then distribute that material far and wide for hundreds of gardeners and farmers and seed companies to use to select hundreds of new varieties of heirloom-quality open-pollinated OSSI-Pledged tomato varieties with late blight and other disease resistance combined with heirloom-quality flavor. I hope in this fashion that we can replace all the current heirlooms with equally delicious late blight resistant versions before the late blight situation gets so bad that our current heirlooms become ungrowable. This project is going to require major resources in land and labor. In addition, the step of "choosing the offspring that carry an appropriate repertoire of late blight and other disease resistant genes" from which to get the F2s to distribute will involve marker assisted selection. That alone will require several thousand dollars in lab fees per year for a number of years. However, the result of this project should be a new generation of heirloom-quality tomatoes that are not only resistant to late blight, but also carry the other important genes for disease resistance that most heirloom tomato varieties currently lack.

In addition, I'm breeding new lines of eat-all greens crops as well as more corn, beans, and squash. My varieties are being designed and selected to grow faster and more vigorously and yield better than commercial hybrids under organic growing conditions as well as to taste a lot better and create new niches in the food, farming, and gardening worlds.

Do you like my work? Would you like to help me continue it? Are you so situated such that you might be able to make a major contribution? If so, will you become a patron of my plant breeding work?

Patrons for any given year contribute $500 or more as individuals, $1000 or more if institutions. They will be acknowledged on my website unless they choose to be anonymous. In addition, as a small token of my appreciation, patrons will automatically be sent all new releases of finished varieties as I release them. Please send Patron checks to Carol Deppe, 7263, NW Valley View Dr., Corvallis OR 97330. Please include an email address and phone number so I can call you, thank you personally, and get to know you a little. (You can also include Patron checks with your seed order.)