If seeds and plants interest you, then together we can help preserve Ireland's flora.
There are many ways to volunteer with us. We run the charity transparently so we can accept help with many processes from administration to volunteer leadership to seed conservation to horticulture. So whether you have an area of expertise you’d like to share or want to learn new skills we’d love to hear from you. Send an email to our lovely volunteer coordinator email@example.com or give us a ring at the office on 028 44881736.
Learn how to run a charity
There’s a lot of admin to running a charity. Here at THS, before we found our generous business advisor Phil, we had to hunt around many different places to find the information we needed to set up the charity in 2013. We want to offer help, where we can, to others wishing to start up similar environmental ventures. The best way to find out how we got started is to come along and get involved. We can talk and work.
You could join in. If you have had experience in fundraising, talk to us if you have an idea for your own project, we can help you with the fundraising and you can run your seed project or research from THS at Kilclief.
Or a talent for databases to enter collection data into both our own and CEDaR’s databases. Login to the CEDaR website to view our collections currently in the Seed Bank.
Out and about, making the seed collections.
We can offer a number of places for volunteers to accompany us on each of our collection outings.
The collections offer the opportunity for you to receive our training on how to make scientific seed collections of wild flowers and trees that will be suitable for long term banking at -20C.
With our training, you could become an independent collector and donate collections to the Seed Bank, all with your name on them, enshrined in history with Ireland’s 21st centuary native wild flora seed collection.
We will be making native collections of 10 tree species in 2017 and at least 60 species of wild flowers throughout 2017 and 2018. Taking place in northern Ireland there is some mileage funding for volunteers.
Produce plants from seed ready for planting out
In the nursery we’ll be taking samples from seed collections to grow out. The seedlings will be pricked out and grown on in modules until they’re large enough to go out into the ground.
We grow species out so that we can collect their seeds and these, with their native heritage can be used in conservation projects.
To ensure genetic integrity of the new generation we aim to have 250 mature seeding individuals, so results from the germination tests tell us how many seeds to sow. We don’t molly coddle the plants too much to avoid breeding in weaknesses but just enough to give each good growing conditions to thrive.
We also have future growing projects to make native plants available as plugs for restoration projects.
On yer tractor
Plenty of outside work available
There’s 1.5 acres of land to be managed at Kilclief. All our work is done without the use of any chemicals, which means plenty of weed control and grass cutting.
Ground preparation, the soil here is a 65% silt, 25% sand and 8% clay with the rest organic matter, so we’re able to get onto it early. The gentle south facing slope means it’s warmer than many.
Plants planted with the planter, we sit behind the tractor and drop the plugs from the nursery down the shute into the furrow opened up by the coulter and then closed up by the press wheels once the plant roots are in. If the tractor isn’t suitable we plant plugs in by hand.
Some plants require isolation from wild relatives found in the countryside so different methods of isolation and pollination are used.
To make the seed ready for long term banking at -20C there are several processes to go through.
You’ll learn techniques on seed conservation.
As collections come in the seed needs to dry and mature. They can then be cleaned, the method depends on the type of seed. Then we dry them down in the cooled incubator to 15RH – critically dry for a seed. After this germination tests are carried out, under differing circumstances, which determines whether the collection will be suitable for long term storage.
If they are suitable the collection is accessioned into the seed bank.
Throughout, the results of all of the above as well as the data collected with each collection is entered and stored in our databases.