Field Diaries - Ella (October 9, 2017)

A few weeks ago we had the pleasure of visiting Curtis & Curtis Inc. and Bamert Seed to meet some of the Southwest’s native seed production experts. We were amazed to see the scale of production at which they operate, imagining how our native seeds could be grown out and utilized at such a scale in the future.

Beyond seeing their fields, seed cleaning facilities, and massive seed storage warehouses, we engaged in encouraging conversations regarding the prospect of a future native seed market concerned primarily with genetically diverse, locally adapted, wild collected, native species. We were excited to hear that some of their efforts are already being redirected from a historically agricultural focus to more of a reclamation focus. Wild collected seeds offer a milieu of benefits to the environment tied to their inherent genetic diversity. The demand within the native seed market is shifting, so the hope is that the industry will as well.

Because the demand for appropriate native seed is increasing every day, it is exciting to be a part of this pivotal stage in the seed industry. Just think of the impact the native seed industry could make on the more than eight million acres that have already been subjected to wildfires this year. The hope is that large scale programs like BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) will diversify their presently all grass mixes and that highway revegetation efforts, for example, will enter into agreements to apply the right seed onto immense expanses of roadsides. The increase in the use of genetically diverse, wild collected seeds, mixed with a greater emphasis on wildflowers rather than solely native grasses represents an important paradigm shift within the restoration community!