Celebrating 10 Years of Wildflower Conservation

Celebrating 10 Years of Wildflower Conservation

Reason To Celebrate

December 2023 marked the 10th year of True Harvest Seeds and here’s why we’re celebrating! Started in 2013 with a mission to protect native wildflowers in Ireland, Debbie completed training with staff from Kew Millennium Seed Bank who visited County Down twice in 2014 and 2015. High quality, scientific Seed Bank collecting began in November 2014. In 2016 Debbie completed an in-house Seed Conservation Techniques Training Course at the Millennium Seed Bank. After 10 years, we now have over 340 banked seed accessions of over 290 native wildflower species in our own seed bank. We have also banked 140 wildflower species and 28 woody species into Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, including a large Ash, Fraxinus excelsoir, in 2018.

We’ve worked on 11 Schedule 8 endangered plant species (Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern-Ireland) 2011). Making collections and growing out some species in raised beds and banking their seed. We have undertaken repatriation work of two Schedule 8s, Crambe maritima – Sea Kale and Hypochaeris glabra – Smooth Cat’s Ear. Progeny grown out at head office were planted back to the original parent site in an attempt to re-establish populations.

A Growing Cause

From four original founders, Debbie Gillies, Julia Cross, Katie Laurence, Mark Bryson, two trustees have joined – Becky Knight and Michael Thompson. We currently have 11 volunteers and our staff number has grown to four to include Clare and Sebastian. That’s a team of 21 working to save the wildflowers of Ireland! You can meet almost everyone in our Who We Are page. We have become a member organisation, which allows our community to see our work and make vital financial contributions. If you’d like to join our cause you can for £2.99/month or £35.88/year. You’ll receive our gift pack with newsletter, wildflower goodies and native wildflower seeds! (Native wildflower seeds only ship within the island of Ireland)

It’s great to connect with everyone on social media and create a community who are learning, sowing, growing and donating. You can join us on Facebook, Instagram, X, LinkedIn, YouTube and TikTok.
We will be rolling out a volunteering campaign in the next year, so if you’d like to volunteer with us specifically for our Seed Collecting Program, please contact sebastian@trueharvestseeds.org.
Having everyone on board is a massive boost to native wildflower conservation. With things growing in the right direction we are feeling very encouraged about the future of the native wildflowers in Ireland.

Community Connection

We’ve collaborated with many Northern and some Southern Irish NGO’s and have been assisted greatly by local councils, NIEA and DAERA. We are continuing to provide native wildflower seed mixes to schools and community groups with thanks to the Climate Challenge Fund from Live Here Love Here. Email kathryn@trueharvestseeds.org to claim your £16 off voucher for a 10g+ size pack which can be applied at checkout. It’s brilliant to know that there are patches of native wildflowers boosting numbers around the countryside and feeding our pollinators with their blooms and birds with their seeds.

Making connections with Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership, St Anne’s Physic Garden, Sonairte and The Gaia Foundation, to name a few, gave us new and interesting perspectives from across the island. The input and interest of so many great organisations in our work is extremely encouraging and provides opportunities for future collaboration. We will let you know of individual projects in more depth in future publications.

A Resource

Our online shop is gathering strength under Clare’s caretaking. We are developing a resource that can be trusted to provide organic, sustainable and practical solutions for growing and gardening. We currently offer native-origin wildflower seeds, organic, open-pollinated vegetable, herb and non-native flower seeds. To keep in line with our conservation efforts our wildflower seeds are native-origin to the island of Ireland. Our Organic open-pollinated vegetable, herb and non-native flower seeds grow into plants capable of producing seed. That means you can save your seed year on year and never need to buy seed again.

Making it Permanent

We have a four acre field, registered organic, where we grow our wildflower crops for seeds. We grow seeds for sale in small packets so gardeners and small projects can get small quantities of indigenous seed. Our conservation work centres on care for nature. To us, it makes sense that we practice organic principles to protect the land and its wildlife residents.
Our plans to build Ireland’s first dedicated native seed bank are underway. The building below will be a testament to our commitment to Ireland’s native wildflowers. Our target is to have at least one specimen of each of our native species in the seed vault from each geographical region of the island. That is around 44,000 collections. To achieve this we’ll be running our All Island Collection Programme, involving individuals, experts, communities, NGO’s along the way. So, keep your walking boots on standby!

3D Image of the plans for a Native Irish Seed Vault

A Living Collection

As a seed bank, it is just that, a bank and not a seed museum. Seeds can be requested from collections by bona fide individuals and organisations upon application for restoration or research projects. They are donated by True Harvest Seeds, and we ask that once you grow out your seeds that you help us replenish the collection with some of your seed. We’ve a fabulous monthly newsletter, to sign up see the footer of our pages. We share gardening tips, conservation news and our latest updates from our seed bank.

Seeds of Tomorrow

Reflecting on our incredible journey over the past decade, we are filled with gratitude and excitement for the future. Life on our planet is only possible through plant life and their ability to convert solar energy into food. So a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us and those who currently do. We are thrilled to be supported by so many of you, thank you!

Stay tuned for more exciting news and join the movement to conserve our native wildflowers for generations to come! Together, we can make a difference.

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We are searching for a Fundraising Trustee to help us raise capital for The Native Irish Seed Vault. If you are interested, please get in touch via debbie@trueharvestseeds.org

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