Organic farmers require improved varieties that have been adapted to their unique soils, nutrient inputs, management practices, and pest pressures. One way to develop adapted varieties is to situate breeding programs in the environment of intended use, such as directly on organic farms, and in collaboration with organic farmers. This model is a form of participatory plant breeding, and was originally created in order to meet the needs of under-served, small-scale farmers in developing countries. A robust body of literature supports the quantitative genetic selection theory of participatory plant breeding, and helps to explain its increasing prevalence among organic breeding projects in the United States. The history of the organic farming movement in the United States highlights the... cultural relevance of engaging organic farmers in the breeding process, complementing the biological rationale for participatory plant breeding. In addition, limited private investment in organic plant breeding encourages the involvement of plant breeders at public institutions. This paper synthesizes the biological, cultural, and economic justifications for utilizing participatory plant breeding as an appropriate methodology for organic cultivar development.