Development of an Interactive Website to Connect Native Plant Material Producers and Users

The Foothills Restoration Forum has witnessed a growing need to address the idea of a Native Plant Cooperative for Southern Alberta and included it as a breakout session topic during this year’s FRF Fall Information Session.  Based on a combination of the results of these sessions and prior feedback, we are currently working on a DRAFT interactive website designed to link producers of native plant materials with those who require native plant materials for their projects. 

A web based review of the draft product will be scheduled in early 2014 to help refine the draft so that the idea can be further developed and presented at upcoming conferences.

The following is a summary of the compiled breakout session discussion question results.

Foothills Restoration Forum Fall Info Session Breakout Discussion Summary:  Forming a Native Plant Cooperative for Southern Alberta and the Prairies

  1. Discuss the current barriers experienced when sourcing suitable native plant material for projects.
  • Availability of plants (reliable sources, accurate descriptions, quality, quantities, region specific, avoiding substitution, insufficient native species availability, and species diversity within grasses as well as inclusion of structural layers-shrubs, forbs etc).  Also native harvest sources (location, access to private or public lands, lack of equipment).
  • Lack of education within professionals/consultants/industry.

- Some are not aware of the ANPC source list (needs to be updated).

- Lack of knowledge: reproduction/propagation/production.

- More government guidance may be required to support: tree criteria, cultivars, locations of    species to harvest, equipment to collect species bank.  Also more precise instruction and information are required, e.g. plant community reference guide.

- Standards may be required to address: supplier certification, reporting, fraudulent seed, proper identification of sources and storage, removal of invasive species from seed bank.

  • Standards of Seed Analysis, are they credible between US and Canada? (labeling /seed names are not consistent).
  • Disjunct between industry and consultants, not enough lead time for seed production provided during project planning phase.
  • Cost effectiveness.
  • Insufficient people on the ground to collect seed – seed cleaning/harvesting/propogation/distribution. Is there a way to motivate and support growers?

 

2.  Discuss within the group the concept of a native plant material cooperative for the prairies which could be web based and facilitated through the Foothills Restoration Forum.  Discuss the feasibility and how it might function.

  • Web enabled system – connect users and producers to buy and sell (Kijiji style) mapping/database of collection sites.

- Someone must lead quality control – must have certification/training/professional designation.

- Include only certified collection sites and growers – record keeping required and may need to establish a certification process.  Try to include a ‘seller rating’ system.

- Consider including an application for smart phones.

- Those who can accommodate the demands – standardize to have a better idea of what people want and who can source it – may be bias to those who can, may limit small producers.

- FRF warehouse link – to list all suppliers, growers and users.  Is there a way to incorporate a listing of landowners that would allow native harvesting on their land?

- Include a standardized form to label reclamation efforts – to help educate others.

- The order system could be ‘contract-based’ with strict terms and conditions for participation.

- There should be “seed zones” (scientifically proven and perhaps based on natural subregions).

-  Storage logistics are challenging (consider Government storage facilities).

  • Government / Industry funded

- Seedbanking similar to the oilsands initiative, Coop could market themselves as the main source for seed in southern Alberta and make the work cost effective.  Need to educate industry, consultants and producers about seedbanks.

- Put producer and consumer in contact with one another through “Ropin the Web” (Agriculture and Rural Development).

- Advertise that funding is required, there are a multitude of organizations that could provide financial backing to restore Alberta’s native seed bank.

  • Additional Suggestions

- Lend out native seed harvesters to landowners and municipalities.

- Notifications of good seed production areas (use GVI, plant community guides).

- Spreadsheet with a list of available species and amounts that consumers can look at to purchase, similar to the ANPC list.

- Network sources – allow them to distribute resources to meet demand, and possibly allow ability to identify others working within similar parameters to share ideas.

- Include links to other sources (Saskatchewan guidelines, seed mixes).

- There is a need for an ‘information guide’ for plants to clarify timing, scarifying, and freezing components relative to reclamation.