If seeds and plants interest you, then together we can help preserve Ireland’s flora.

That the planet is undergoing change is undeniable. Its capacity to sustain life is diminishing. There are thankfully people who are aware that positive action is necessary.

Ecological anxiety is now a recognised nervous condition. The antidote? Take practical action.

Among the [7] billion human beings, the older generation, including me, is getting ready to say goodbye to this world. The youth has to carry the responsibility for the future. So, please realise your responsibility, remember your potential, and have self-confidence. Have an open mind and a sense of caring and belonging. The freshness and strength that youth has should not fade away. You must keep this enthusiasm.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

We are preserving Ireland’s wild flowers for the pleasure of future generations to come. People who we’ll never meet, who haven’t been born yet. It is not success that makes us great, but the endeavour. Endeavour to improve ourselves, to feel good about ourselves and leave behind us a world that our children may enjoy, just like we had.

A voice now, for each of those who can’t speak for themselves.

A comprehensive collection of all Ireland’s species, across the country, is a huge undertaking. We want to share our collecting, growing and seed conservation information and pass on the legacy of knowledge. There are many ways to help; administration, governance, fundraising, outreach, marketing, web upkeep, volunteer leadership, seed collecting, data upkeep, seed conservation, germination testing, horticulture, evaluation, business experience, site maintenance and more. So whether you have an area of expertise you’d like to share and/or you want to learn new skills we’d love to hear from you. To find out more about our volunteer roles, please contact us by emailing debbie@trueharvestseeds.org.

Volunteer registration forms and role descriptions are available to download below.

Completed registration forms can be emailed to debbie@trueharvestseeds.org or posted to True Harvest Seeds, 36 Ardglass Road, Kilclief, Downpatrick, BT30 7NS

Roles are varied and overlap. We are very keen to get seed knowledge back into general society, so in return for volunteering we will include you as much as possible in the day to day running of the charity, in line with both confidentiality and transparency regulations.

We are currently inviting interest from people who have a particular area of expertise and would like to become involved in THS at board level. We are interested to hear from people who can dedicate a set amount of time and would Champion for THS, in the following areas:

  • Commerce.
  • Fundraising.
  • Architecture.
  • Genetic studies.

Advertising the above from 24th October 2020.

If you are interested in preserving the wild flowers of the island of Ireland we would love to hear from you. There is a lot to running a charity, but with committed staff and volunteers it will be possible to complete the population of the Seed Bank so that the seeds of Irish wild flowers are held safely and can be retrieved for restoration and research. Here’s some of the things we do:


Plant nursery at Kilclief

Horticulture

We are expanding our nursery:

We want to provide plugs of our native origin wild flowers. These are often more accessible to gardeners and groups and people who don’t have the facilities necessary to grow out our seeds.

We also grow plugs for field production. These plugs are planted out in rows in the field and will grow on to provide the seeds we put into our small seed packets on the online shop.

We also contract grow plugs for organisations who need the plants for specific restoration projects. In this picture you can see grasses on the left, these are destined for the coast around the Lecale area to help stabalise sand dunes and foreshore.


A basic seed test in the office

Seed science


Testing is essential to test every batch of seeds.

We test for viability, looking at seed maturity and rot. We also check for infestation, in some species for example vetches, this can be high and a collection left unprocessed may get eaten quickly. So knowing the pests (residents to dear Catherine 😉 ) for species is helpful. We only store collections that have 85% germination success rate.

Degradation in the seeds over time happens differently per species. To guard against having a dead seed bank, collections are grown out so their progeny can replenish the seed bank. This also helps with environmental adaptation, which is becoming more pertinent with the serious and increasing global upheaval in weather patterns.

We run germination testing on all our batches for sale so we can adjust numbers of seeds in the packets accordingly.

In this picture Debbie is doing a cut test, a simple and effective way of determining if a seed was viable.


Collecting data out on a seed collection

Seed collections

For more on Seed collecting click here.

As a volunteer it won’t take you long to learn how to make seed collections of the high quality needed for successful seed banking.

You’ll help with population assessment, plant identification, seed collecting, data recording, selection of DNA and herbarium specimen material and taking the photos.

If you become a proficient collector you can lead your own expeditions and donate collections to the seed bank. Your name as collector remains with the collection for its lifetime, which may be hundreds of years.
It’s good to have your name on a collection that may help save a species and allow future generations of fauna and people to enjoy the same flora that we enjoy today.

Seed collecting is a fabulous way to spend your spare time. Citizen science contributions are an important addition to the seed bank, a great way to enhance your CV and takes healthy outdoor acitivites to a new dimension.

In 2021 we will have spaces for trainee collectors on our new collecting program. Contact the office on info@trueharvestseeds.org for more information on how to get involved.


Row crops at Kilclief

Crop growing

From wild collections, made separately from seed bank collections, we bulk up numbers until there are enough plants to harvest what we need for the shop.
We started selling seed so that our supporters and lovers of native-origin plants could buy gardeners sized seed packets, suitable for flower beds and small projects.

We employ chemical free methods throughout the site. For weeding it’s all mechanical or by hand. The tractor gets between the rows and then we hand weed between the plants.
We grow the plants on ridges which helps keep the tractor wheels and implements in the right place and also defines the location of the plants if the weeds get away.

Harvesting happens from June to November and all species produce seed successionally, with varying lengths of seeding times and intensities. All done by hand it’s pleasant, satisfying work and something volunteers can readily join in with.

We would welcome a young farmer/horticulturist who knows their way around a tractor. We’ve a Ford 4000, implements for row crop work and a rotivator.