Environmental Concern (EC), in celebration of 48 years since the first native plant seed collection expedition, is pleased to announce the launch of the Eastern Shore Seed Stewards initiative. EC’s Native Plant Nursery, operating in St. Michaels since 1972, has learned from experience that it takes more than a ‘village’ of experienced native plant specialists to collect enough seed to grow over 110 species of native plants.
EC’s annual native seed harvesting process starts in the summer and continues through the fall. The nursery specialists collect seeds from herbaceous plants, shrubs, and trees planted on EC’s campus. We harvest in our backyard – a practice that generated the idea to teach gardeners and plant enthusiasts how to collect seed in their backyard gardens.
In 2018, EC founded the Seed Stewards for Monarchs program. Due to the 90% decrease in the Monarch population, the increased demand for milkweed plants resulted in a milkweed seed shortage. The Monarch butterfly is a “Near Threatened” species due to the dramatic loss of Monarch habitat. The Seed Stewards for Monarchs program accomplished two important goals: increasing the Monarch butterfly’s critical milkweed habitat and increasing seed inventory for EC’s milkweed crops. Over 250 volunteers are currently participating in the program. EC benefits from the generous seed donations from the Seed Stewards and the Seed Stewards receive discounts on plants, seed harvesting education programs, and invitations to appreciation events.
The Eastern Shore Seed Stewards initiative is an extension of the Seed Stewards for Monarchs program. The program goals are consistent with the Seed Stewards for Monarchs program. EC is educating the community about the importance of growing native plants, plant identification, and native plant seed harvesting. Seed Stewards collect seeds to propagate and grow in their gardens and donate a percentage of their seeds to EC. This activity is appropriate for all ages – from 4 to 94. Families, garden clubs, 4-H groups, neighbors, religious groups, and all Eastern Shore communities and organizations are welcome to join the program. Your participation will increase habitat for all native creatures that need the food, cover, and protection that native plants provide on shorelines and in rain gardens, pollinator gardens, and wetlands.
Seed Stewards communicate by email, virtual education sessions, and social media – and with each other to share helpful suggestions and tips for successful seed harvesting. Visit EC’s website to sign up for the Eastern Shore Seed Stewards program, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Consider adding a variety of native species to your garden this fall to prepare for seed collection in 2021. EC’s nursery is accepting retail orders now. Many species are ready for pick-up or free local delivery (within 20 miles of EC). Plant availability is posted on the website at https://wetland.org/retail/. Place your order with Lyndsey at email@example.com or call 410-745-9620 for more information.