How to be a Native Seed Steward

Updated: Oct 11

Hello EEC friends, Parkway for Pollinator members, and environmental stewards! We’re excited to help you collect and store your garden seeds! This article contains:

  • tips to make the process enjoyable and rewarding

  • gathering instructions specific to common native species

  • additional video and article resources compiled to demonstrate seed collections

  • locations for sharing and receiving seeds in Edgewater

This guide was created for you in tandem with our Parkway for Pollinators program, which aims to cultivate healthy pollinator habitats in Edgewater public spaces, improve carbon capture, and renew our community soil. Please feel free to check out our other education resources, as well as volunteer opportunities and pollinator site registration.



Seed Collection Tips

  • Pick 10-50% of your seed heads and pods

  • Generally, collect seed that are already ripened

  • Target healthy plants for seed quality

  • Collect seeds on a dry day in fall

  • Gently crush pods and capsules to release seed if they don’t open when dry

  • Label a paper bag for seed storage

  • If desired, plant some of the collection back into your garden!



Little Free Seed Library in Edgewater


Donate collected seeds to your local Little Free Seed Library! Exchange seeds with your community, learn about native species, and leave cuttings for your neighbors at the Bryn Mawr & Ashland Andersonville Seed Library.


5600 N Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL















External Resources


Videos

  1. A thorough overview (6:08) of fall season seed collection by the University of Illinois; learn how to cultivate a diverse and sustainable assortment, the best times to conduct your collection, the storage process, and some recommended materials.

  2. A collection demonstration (8:00) for harvesting and saving your garden seed stock. This video may be used as an overview, but is specific to lettuce, mizuna mustard, beets, celery, onion, heirloom beans, and sunflower.

  3. A 2021 webinar (1:20:06) through the Sag Moraine Native Plant Community, hosted by Kelly Schultz, that covers seed groups, plant identification, and tips for successful collection and storage specific to species of interest.


Articles

  1. A seed collection spread from the Tallgrass Prairie Center giving a brief and thorough overview of equipment needed for collection, recommended collection dates by species, and potential troubleshooting tips.

  2. Seed Collection guides through the Field Museum organized by county and ecosystem type. This resource also contains over 1000 educational guides for common animal species and native plants to the Chicago area.

  3. Online training and educational materials through Project Wingspan, a midwest, volunteer-based initiative for pollinator conservation. They provide webinars, a seed collection manual, and plant profile cards.



Gathering Instructions by Common Species


Link to the following chart here




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