To advance pollinator habitat restoration in Virginia, by increasing the availability of Virginia-ecotype native seed. The Virginia Native Seed Pilot Project is focused on creating a network of local producers that can collectively serve as a commercial source of Virginia-ecotype native seeds for large-scale revegetation and restoration projects.
What is an ecotype?
“An ecotype is a population adapted to local site (usually edaphic) conditions that occur in patches rather than in gradients.” (Mátyás 2004).
- Evolved overtime forming symbiotic relationships within their ecosystem.
- Benefitting insects, birds, and mammals that may depend on these plants and vice versa.
- Adapted to better tolerate conditions found in their associated ecoregion.
- Serve as genes pools that contribute to genetic diversity within their species.
Lack of regionally appropriate native seed to meet demand. This forces us to rely on seeds from various regions around the country that may be considered “native” to Virginia but not sourced from here. Current thinking is that this has a negative effect on our local pollinator populations as much of the introduce plant material may bloom at different times or may have differing physical traits than the local plants these pollinators evolved to rely on.
There is also evidence that shows us that using regionally sourced plant material increases survivability and increase biomass production over plant material used that may be foreign to our region.
By collecting seeds from native plant populations here in Virginia we can begin to produce large quantities of regionally appropriate material. In order to create a self-sustaining supply of locally sourced material we are working farmers who are looking to incorporate these plants into their current operations. This increase in supply should provide a more ecologically minded option for seeds. We also hope to see positive effects on our pollinator populations in the years to come by prioritizing the use of regionally source material.