The Student Collaborative Organic Plant Breeding Education (SCOPE) project is a student-led collaborative of faculty and student plant breeders working with local organic growers on improving crop varieties for organic farming systems in Northern California, with the possibility of future expansion to other regions. The organic plant breeding project was developed in direct response to California's organic growers, who have reported a scarcity of seeds for cultivars that meet the needs of organic farming. Using traditional, field-based plant breeding methods, new varieties of heirloom-like tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, bell peppers, pest resistant common bean, and lima bean are being developed on certified organic land at The Student Farm at UC Davis. The breeding objectives of these projects were selected based on input from local organic farmers as well as input from one of our collaborators, the Organic Seed Alliance. In addition to the breeding projects, the students participate in seminars focused around how to conduct outreach activities, organic farming methods, and project management as well as participate in Field Days to showcase their work to a broader audience.
As part of the public outreach, the SCOPE research projects have not only been the topic of discussion, but also an engaging backdrop. Here a student in SCOPE presents his team's work in front of the lime bean field during SCOPE's field day.
To engage current students at UC Davis, PIs work with both undergrads and grad students on different aspects of plant breeding. Students from different backgrounds and levels attend various workshops.
At the Bean Field day, growers and those interested in bean research attended and learned more about the common and lima bean research happening at UC Davis, including the SCOPE projects that deal with breeding beans for organic conditions.
Several local farmers have been involved in the direction of SCOPE. Initially, a survey of local growers influenced the breeding objectives of both the tomato and peppers projects.
The SCOPE Project offers internship credits for undergraduate students. To join the project, contact Antonia Palkovic with a list of teams you would be interested in joining.