Seed Collectors Wanted!

Looking for a reason to visit more SWMLC preserves this summer and fall?

We have just the excuse for you!

Amidst all of our regular Wednesday and Saturday Workdays, we’ve been planning a new Seed Collectors program to improve habitat restoration efforts on our preserves by improving their botanical diversity.

This program will involve collecting the seeds of target species and sowing them in appropriate locations that are “in need” of some supplemental seed. This could be especially helpful for natural communities that are being restored – such as the oak savanna at Wolf Tree Nature Trails – where we expect that invasive plants will keep coming back after their removal if native plants are not reintroduced to take their place.

Summer seed collecting is a fun family activity.

In areas where we have introduced native seed from commercial sources, plant diversity is often limited by the number of species included in the mix, so we’d also like to give those areas a boost by using other native species known to grow in those plant communities.

Autumn seed collecting at Hidden Pond Preserve in Barry County.

Seed collection will very much complement our existing stewardship work on SWMLC preserves. For example, if glossy buckthorn (a particularly nasty invasive) is removed in one patch by the SWMLC stewardship crew or volunteers, we can target that area for introduction of good native seed that we’ve collected throughout the year as the next step in the habitat restoration process.

Sorting the collected seed.
There are a number of ways you can help with the seed collecting program.

Seed collectors can work independently or in groups across SWMLC preserves, and other collecting locations where we have received permission. Collectors can harvest native plant seed throughout the year, scout natural areas for seed ripening, help “clean” and blend seed, and help to sow the seed back into the natural areas once cleaned and/or mixed.

Cleaning the collected seeds of chaff and debris.
Since timing of seed collection can be critical, it would be helpful to have several volunteers who are willing visit and monitor certain preserves regularly to scout the availability of target species – and then later visit them to collect seed.

Just as it is enjoyable to follow the progress of the season of a preserve by tracking the bloom of wildflowers from month to month, seed collecting also connects you with the progress of the season, and some of the wonderful and often overlooked subtle changes in nature.

So, if you’re looking for an opportunity to explore a SWMLC preserve you’ve been wanting to visit, or have a bad back and can’t join the Wednesday Warriors, maybe you can become a Seed Collector!

You can visit some new preserves, and help our little project, too! We will do our best to make it easy to help, and to do as little or as much as suits your available time.

Just let us know of you’re interest and availability and we’ll provide more details to plan a way to help us that works for you.

Please email Mitch at lettow at and Jeff at flemmo74 at

Thanks for your interest!
Mitch Lettow and Jeff Fleming

Sowing seeds at Sand Creek Preserve.
Some of the seed types that we've collected for redistribution.