Seeds are essential in restoring healthy native ecosystems. Not just any seeds, but those from local descendants of plants that have prospered here for thousands of years and which are adapted to local conditions.
We carefully harvest seeds from those local plants, gather them into mixes and spread them into management sites to restore the understory. The results of our efforts are evident in vibrant woodlands and prairies along the North Branch of the Chicago River.
However, some species are still rare, making it difficult to collect enough seeds for all of the sites. Other species may produce ample seeds but are hard to collect. Small yellow star grass plants, for instance, are easy to see in bloom, but are almost impossible to find when obscured by tall vegetation later in the season. Violets and other plants have pods that shoot out their seeds when ripe. The collector must be at the right place at just the right time to catch them.
The mission of the seed garden is to enhance our ability to restore rich diverse natural communities. In the garden, we are able to water the plants, pull weeds, and collect the seeds efficiently, increasing the amount of rare seeds available for the mixes.
We welcome volunteers who enjoy this kind of restoration work! Check our Calendar page to sign up for scheduled workdays, and let us know if you have questions.