Botanist, Horticulturist, Community Scientist, Independent Plant Breeder, Researcher, Writer, Blogger. That is Owen: Dr Owen Glyn Smith.
Owen is passionate about crop development for sustainable food production, with a special interest in Andean tubers. For years, he has grown oca, producing true seed and growing them on in the an attempt to breed day neutral varieties: a process through which the potato plant itself went, before we could adopt it as a mainstay of the Western diet.
Oca is, however a tristylous, octoploid outcrosser. This means that the flowers come in three forms with different length floral structures, each of which is usually self-incompatible; it has eight sets of chromosomes rather than the usual two. The result is that inheritance is a highly complex and unpredictable process requiring close attention to detail, too much for lone individuals to make much progress with in a lifetime.
That’s how the idea of The Guild of Oca Breeders (GOB) was born, members of the Guild are dedicated growers and scientists who have come together to work on food diversity and security for all.