In September and October, Golden Hills had funding from The Gilchrist Foundation to continue our Prairie Seed Harvest project in the Loess Hills. We also have funding from Pottawattamie Conservation Foundation to do prairie seed harvest at Hitchcock Nature Center specifically. At each event, Project Coordinator Lance Brisbois provided a brief training on identifying species and ripe seed, then showed how to harvest the seed.
Through these events, we engaged more than nearly 100 volunteers of all ages totaling approximately 187 volunteer hours, worth well over $5,000 of time that would have otherwise been incurred by local conservation agencies with limited time and budgets. The seed we harvested was combined with seed purchased from other sources to be used on prairie restoration projects totaling several hundred acres.
All seed collected from state lands was donated to Iowa Department of Natural Resources staff per state regulations. Most seed collected from other areas was given back to local conservation agencies for their prairie restoration efforts. Golden Hills saved a small amount of seed (with written permission) from land owned by county conservation boards for native plant propagation in partnership with Iowa Western Community College. We will grow some of this seed in their greenhouse over the winter and host a native plant sale in spring 2022.
Some of the seed has also been saved by Golden Hills to start a small native seed bank. This seed will be stored long-term and added to each year, with the intent of growing a seed bank of local ecotype native species.
We thank all the volunteers who helped this year, and look forward to hosting more seed harvest events in 2022. Thank you to The Gilchrist Foundation and Pottawattamie Conservation Foundation for their financial support.
As part of this year's Giving Tuesday (November 30), we have a goal of 40 donors and $4,000 to support our Prairie Seed Harvest project. Learn more and donate here.