Edmund Frost, Twin Oaks Farm Seed Saver and Market Farmer
Name: Edmund Frost
Place of Residence: Twin Oaks Community, Louisa, Virginia
Background and Personal History: Edmund grew up in Washington DC. His first exposure to agriculture came working for New Morning Farm’s truck market, and at the farm for a summer in southern Pennsylvania. After several years of traveling, he was drawn back to agricultural work at Waltons Orchard in northern Michigan, working with a farmer named Bruce Walton. Bruce had a lot of stories from growing up on a farm in the 1930s and a lot to teach about growing organic fruit and vegetables, working on farm equipment, and sharing and networking with neighbors. Edmund later worked at Food Bank Farm in Massachusetts, learning about larger scale vegetable growing, cultivation and weed control.
Edmund became interested in seed growing in particular through activism opposing GMOs. He helped organize “Reclaim the Commons” conferences in 2005 and 2006, in response to the Biotech Industry Organization’s meetings in Philadelphia and Chicago. He was active in the anti-corporate-globalization movement of the 2000s, especially focused on World Bank/IMF activism and GMOs.
Edmund worked at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange for a year before moving down the road to Twin Oaks Community in 2008 to take on management of Twin Oaks’ seed-growing business.
He is a big fan of the Appalachian Trail and the Grateful Dead and has done quite a bit of travelling related to both.
Current Projects: Edmund lives at Twin Oaks Community, a 100-person, income-sharing community in Central Virginia that is almost 50 years old. He has managed Twin Oaks’ seed growing business since 2008. Twin Oaks Seed Farm produces certified organic vegetable seed crops and produce on six acres.
Common Wealth Seed Growers, a Virginia seed growers cooperative started this year, is a new project Edmund is excited about. The hope is that it will make a needed contribution to the movement to build a vibrant regional seed system in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic USA. Common Wealth Seed Growers sells regionally adapted, regionally trialed, farm-quality seeds that are all grown by the farmers in the cooperative. Two sources of inspiration are Organic Seed Alliance, a national nonprofit that promotes the organic and open-pollinated seed movement, and Sierra Seed Cooperative, a seed-growers cooperative from California. Edmund is Managing Director of CWSG.
In 2014, Twin Oaks Seed Farm received a SARE grant to trial 120 varieties of cucumber, winter squash and melon, with a focus on evaluating Downy Mildew and Cucumber Beetle resistance. Downy Mildew is a devastating disease for these crops in the eastern U.S., especially the Southeast and mid-Atlantic.
Plant breeding is another interest, inspired by Oregon plant breeders Carol Deppe and Alan Kapuler, and Michael Mazourek from Cornell. Downy Mildew-resistant cucurbits are a central focus.
Edmund is involved in trade activism, right now focused on stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership. TPP is a NAFTA-style agreement for countries around the Pacific. TPP would make it impossible for any of these countries to ban or to label GMOs. The seed-related positions of the U.S. negotiators look like they were written by Monsanto. TPP would limit access to generic medicine. It would allow corporations to sue countries for passing environmental laws that might impact their profits.
Other Fun Facts: Edmund plays euphonium and trombone.
More Places to Find Edmund on the Web:
Common Wealth Seed Growers
Twin Oaks Seed Farm
Twin Oaks Community