Annual Campaign Preview
Sowing Seeds for SJPT'S Future
Here in the islands, the snowberries have turned creamy white, the rosehips and madrone berries are tiny beacons of red, and the trails are carpeted with tawny fir needles. Another sure sign of the season: We are about to kick off the San Juan Preservation Trust’s 2018 annual membership campaign. By mid-November, you’ll receive a letter from us asking for your renewed support for our conservation work in the San Juan Islands.
The theme of this year’s appeal letter, written by esteemed author and SJPT board president Thor Hanson, is seeds …Read more
A brief preview from this year’s letter: “In autumn,” Thor writes, “it’s easy to be distracted by colorful foliage and forget another story playing out below, where a whole new generation of seeds is settling into the seed bank on every patch of open ground … adding to a store that will ultimately replenish the fields and forests of all our cherished island landscapes.”
Seeds are fundamental to the habitat restoration work that we do, often in partnership with the San Juan County Land Bank. One outgrowth (pun intended) of this partnership is the Salish Seeds Project—a nursery that produces native seeds and plant stock at SJPT’s Red Mill Farm Preserve. We met with the nursery manager, Land Bank Land Steward Eliza Habegger, to ask her about the project.
SJPT: How did the Salish Seeds Project come about?
Eliza Habegger: This project started about four years ago, when the Land Bank began doing native-plant propagation on a very small scale at our office in Friday Harbor, primarily to supply our own habitat restoration projects. We had found that there was no source for native wildflowers and grasses that were local to this region—the San Juan Islands and elsewhere in this rain-shadow climate.
Pretty soon, we were looking to expand to a bigger site. Tim Seifert [SJPT’s executive director] invited us to create a nursery Red Mill Farm. That’s when it became the Salish Seeds Project, a partnership that could benefit both organizations.
SJPT: Where have the seeds and nursery plants that the project has produced been used?
EH: The majority of the seeds and plant plugs we’ve grown have been used to restore Garry oak habitat on Turtleback Mountain Preserve on Orcas Island and on Cady Mountain Preserve on San Juan Island—and also for restoration and expansion of island marble butterfly habitat by the Preservation Trust and other organizations.
SJPT: Can anyone else benefit?
EH: The main goal of this project has been to provide plants and seeds for large-scale restoration projects. But a secondary goal has always been to make native seeds and plants available to anyone who has an interest in bringing them back to the landscape, even in small patches. So we’ve started creating packets of blended seeds for people to sow in their own backyards.
All SJPT members and friends who respond to our Annual Campaign appeal with a gift of $150 or more will receive a special packet of native wildflower seeds from the Salish Seeds Project as an expression of our gratitude. (Supplies are limited, so you might want to act quickly!)
Click here to see a short video about the Salish Seeds Project.