Seed Collections

The 30 collections made in 2016 are currently being processed for long term storage.

2017 collections are well underway. We have made 25 wild flower seed collections already with the rest planned and awaiting the seeds to ripen. If you are an organisation or land owner who has a species that you are interested in having collected and or you would like the opportunity to join in helping make collections contact us on email debbie@trueharvestseeds.co.uk or phone 028 4488 1736.

 

History

One of the things, back in 2013, we became aware of and wanted to address is that there isn’t any one comprehensive collection of seeds of Ireland. Another thing was that if you have a restoration project involving wild flowers you’ll want to find local Irish seed, or even local provenance seed.  Also we wanted to bring back to life here the skill of growing plants for seed and the art of successful seed saving.

A comprehensive collection of all Ireland’s species, in all areas is a huge undertaking and as such it’s a project of national interest so we decided to open our doors so to speak and share the collecting with everyone who is willing and able. With the kind help from The Challenge Fund we ran a Pilot Seed Collection Programme, at the beginning of 2015, as an introduction to True Harvest Seeds and the seed collections and to see how much interest there is for people to join in with this project. We spoke to over 100 participants and now have a list of 72 dedicated volunteers who have pledged their time to help with the collections, an amazing response for which we’re very grateful.

Of these 72, 23 have volunteered to be Plant Monitors. Plant monitoring involves keeping an eye on a large population of plants in the wild – when you’re out walking anyway is perfect. When the plants are in flower we get together and take a Herbarium Specimen and a sample for DNA testing. Later when the population is fruiting we gather a group of volunteers and make the seed collection.  There are over 1,400 species of wild plants collectable in Ireland and if you multiply this with the 32 counties we have a lot of collecting to be getting on with.

This year we have pledged to make at least 30 wild flower collections.  THS are currently working in partnership with Kew’s (Millennium Seed Bank Partnership) MSBP under an MoC which enables both THS & the MSB to store seed collections and herbarium specimens of NI’s flora. This MoC also enables sharing of information on the viability & germination protocols for the collections.

We are also working in partnershipith Kew’s UK National Tree Seed Project in 2017 to make 11 collections of trees and shrubs for storage in the Millennium Seed Bank vaults.

 

What we do with the collections

Conservation. Restoration. Information. Research. Sharing.

The collections made by True Harvest Seeds can be put to many uses.

If you are an individual or organisation with a restoration project an appropriate amount of seed can be requested from us, dependant on suitability of location and at a price to cover our costs only. We in turn can grow out seed in the collections to top them up should they get low and therefore ensure supply for everyone on into the future.

To download our Land Owners information sheet click here.

Make a seed donation

Then there are the industrial and agricultural crops. Perhaps you still grow an open pollinated variety that was passed down throught your family, friends or your neighbours? If you have seed of an open pollinated variety that you would like to donate, please get in touch. There is no amount too small. We have the facilities to grow out small collections and bulk up amounts of seed, so that we can then share them upon request.

A great way to get in touch with us is by email at info@trueharvestseeds.co.uk

A collection comprises five parts.

Each collections takes a minimum of two outings to complete.

  1. Herbarium specimen. Pressed and dried examples of the species. Used for exsitu visual reference to the collection.
  2. DNA sample. Held in storage for future genetic testing.
  3. Photos. A general picture of the area, a closer picture to get in associated species and close ups of the flowers and seeds.
  4. 10,000 seeds. 500 as a base collection, various amounts for present and future germination testing, most available for suitable restoration projects.
  5. Data sheet. Including legal confirmity, plant and location details, collection information.

Land owners

Looking forward to 2019 - a new approach

True Harvest Seeds are now accepting  queries from land owners who would like to have their flora represented in the seed bank.  This may appeal to you or your organisation if you are an ASSI and have species potentially under threat.  With your plants’ seeds safe in the seed bank you are insured against loss of species – or even loss of numbers that would create a bottleneck in the wild population genetics.  Seeds can be withdrawn from the seed bank and plants grown out.  The seeds from these plants will then replenish the seed bank stocks.

This new project will begin in 2019 and run for 6 years.  There are 6 land owner slots available per year and we will make a site assessment and see how many collections and what species we can preserve.