It was a warm day in early October when the rare staff journeyed down to the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Ferguson Property in Norfolk County to collect native seed. Guided by the knowledgeable NCC Event leader, Jill Crosthwaite, and local restoration expert, Mary Gartshore, staff from all of rare’s departments got to enjoy the sunshine, learn about the identification of native grasses, and learn about the active restoration efforts of the NCC.
To start the day off, we were given a brief introduction to the property and its history. Looking out onto the sandplain, it was hard to imagine that this property was once in agricultural production. After an identification lesson, the rare team was equipped with seed bags and sent out to explore. Harvesting species like Canada Wild Rye (Elymus canadensis), Sand Dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus), and Kalm’s Brome (Bromus kalmii) provided an excellent opportunity to take in views and see some of Norfolk County’s wildlife like the Eastern Hognose Snake (Heterodon platirhinos), a threatened species in Ontario.
The seed collected during the workday was earmarked for an upcoming restoration project on the Niagara Peninsula. Over the course of the visit, we collected enough grass seed for the upcoming project in addition to fostering a lasting connection between our organizations. Work days like this one are so much more than simply helping out another organization because they offer a chance to reconnect with nature and remind us of the reasons we work in conservation.
This particular seed collection was to restore native plants for a local tall grass prairie. Seed collection is integral to the enhancement of native species and is also a fantastic strategy for optimizing your personal organic garden. Attending a Seed Swap is a great way to collect and trade organic seeds with your friends and neighbors. Seed swaps are great for educating the public on organic gardening and maintaining crop diversity.
You can practice sustainable gardening by collecting your own organic seeds and participating in a seed swap. Join rare in celebrating National Seed Swap Day on January 30th. Join Dan Radolsav, rare’s Garden Coordinator, for a seed swap on National Seed Swap Day. We’ll kick off the event with a short presentation on saving your own seeds. Then you’ll get the opportunity to meet other gardeners and exchange your seeds. All experience levels welcome! This event is free, but please register in advance.
By Carleigh Pope, Junior Conservation Ecologist