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Harvesting native seeds in Iowa: “Iowa has the best soils in the world. The prairies made those soils.”

HONEY CREEK, Iowa – From these indigenous seeds, prairies can flourish.

“Iowa possesses the world’s finest soils. These soils were formed by prairies.”

Lance Brisbois of Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development is gathering seeds with the assistance of volunteers in the Loess Hills of Iowa. They are collecting some of the over 300 “local eco-type” seeds indigenous to the Hitchcock Nature Center. They will be planted in portions of this conservation area to revitalize the prairie.

Brisbois stated that the prairies bring a variety of benefits, including improved water quality. They have extremely deep roots and can prevent erosion and even flash flooding.

And for the volunteers, restoring even a small portion of the grassland has significance.

Oh, it’s really relaxing; it’s a wonderful way to de-stress.

Here, Laura discovers serenity and awe. She and her companion have previously participated in harvests and worked on other community garden projects.

She added, “I’ve only learnt how to look closely and appreciate its beauty in the last couple of years.”

Kayla, a college student, grew up close. She and her friend Noah are receiving credit at Iowa Western Community College for a course.

Noah stated, “I believe it’s a nice opportunity and a lovely night to do something good for the neighborhood.”

Sherrine and Laque are in this location due of their affinity for a rare native scenery.

Sherrine stated, “I visit some of Nebraska’s ‘off-the-beaten-path’ locations, and it’s so cool to witness these plants growing in their natural habitat, both where they are supported by humans and where they are not,” It is quite cool.

“Today, we are harvesting native seeds from remnant prairies,” stated Brisbois. Less than one-tenth of one percent of Iowa’s prairies still exist. The majority of these are found in the Loess Hills, making them extremely unusual and rare.

“The seed we collect today will be used largely for restoration work at Hitchcock Nature Center and Crescent Ski Area, as well as for (restoring) wildlife habitat and erosion management.”

Since the seeds are best utilized in the region where they are obtained, the majority of these will be allocated to those endeavors.

How to assist

On October 23, there will be another seed harvest at Hitchcock Nature Center. There are other areas where members of the public can harvest alongside the Golden Hills RCD.

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