“Collecting for the Future” with Plaster Creek Stewards

Collecting for the Future – Plaster Creek Stewards Fall Newsletter

“Although we at Plaster Creek Stewards collect seeds year round, this activity really ramps up during the fall. We typically devote one day each week to visiting local natural areas to gather seed, seed that will both be grown as individual species and put into mixes for larger projects. If you have never done it, seed collecting is a very satisfying and deeply relaxing past time. It not only gets you out to some beautiful natural remnant ecosystems, it also forces you to move through these landscapes at a slower, more deliberate pace. We notice so much when we are out collecting seeds, and the slow pace allows for more contemplation and meaningful conversations.

Why do we collect seeds? The seeds we collect will be overwintered (for approximately 3 months outdoors) and then brought into our greenhouses to germinate and transplant for later out-planting into rain gardens and bioswales. We use all native plants because these species were growing their deep roots and offering environmental services as well as benefitting insects and birds long before human beings arrived here in West Michigan. We collect seeds so the plants they become can essentially do what they were created to do – increase the health and beauty of our watershed.

This year we have collected seeds from over 470 different local species. Some of these plants are known rain garden all-stars, others are species we want to try because we think they have potential as green infrastructure components. Because we grow so many species we can plant species-rich gardens in almost any type of habitat – from hot and dry to shady and wet. A final note – many of the species we collect are uncommon and diminishing. By using them in our green infrastructure projects we are helping to maintain their populations and helping keep their lineages going. In so many ways collecting seeds is a very hopeful activity that points us in the direction of a more beautiful and biodiverse future.”

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