They made us believe that each one of us is the half of an orange, and that life only makes sense when you find that other half. They did not tell us that we were born as whole, and that no one in our lives deserve to carry on his back such responsibility of completing what is missing in us: we grow through life by ourselves. If we have good company it’s just more pleasant.
—  John Lennon

San Francisco, 2015


11,200,000 UMV

Published: 7/2/2015


“The first axiom of plant breeding is, you breed for the environment of intended use,” says Matthew Dillon, who founded a group called the Organic Seed Alliance. The problem is, organic fields and conventional fields can be very different environments, thanks to big differences in the ways that farmers deal with weeds and insect pests.

For an organic farmer, Dillon says, the ideal bean variety would be one that’s capable of fending for itself in a hostile environment. Perhaps it starts growing quickly enough to get a head start on the weeds, or finds a way to fend off insect pests, or develops a bigger root system to extract nutrients from the soil…

Dillon organization received some small grants from the Clif Bar Family Foundation, and eventually Clif Bar decided to give this cause a big boost.

“Kit Crawford [the co-founder of Clif Bar] approached me and said, ‘Hey, we’re recognizing that, if we want to make change in the world of food and farming, we need to start with the seed,’ ” Dillon recalls.

Dillon went to work for Clif Bar & Company, which uses a lot of organic ingredients, as director of agricultural policy. He’s also in charge of a “Seed Matters” initiative at the Clif Bar Family Foundation. His new employer, has now promised to fund organic breeding endowments at five universities, at a cost that could reach $10 million. The first $2 million endowment will be established at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Organic Valley, a farmer cooperative based in Wisconsin, matched Clif Bar’s contribution to the university…

Breeders like Tracy will have the chance to apply for additional funding from the Clif Bar-funded endowment. And he says he’s excited about the opportunity. The endowment will produce enough funding at least for an additional graduate student or field technician.