Harvest Season

By Katy Heggen on August 30, 2018 in Blog

Prairie seedPhoto by Ryan Ellsworth

Each spring and fall, the Iowa landscape signals a change of season. Leaves turn and buds dot branches as the land prepares for what lies ahead. The prairie is no exception, and in the stewardship world, the change in the air also signals a shift in focus.

While summer and winter are largely devoted to restoring the landscape — invasive species, brush and the like — spring and fall are about returning things to the ground. When it comes to the prairie that translates to two things in particular — prescribed fire and prairie seed harvests.

While the prior is best left to trained and certified professionals, the latter is an activity people of all ages, experiences and abilities can enjoy.

Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation hosts several prairie seed harvests on prairies great and small across the state. Seed targets vary according to availability, season and need. Some seeds are stored, dried and sown later in the season, while others are scatted the same day. All seed collected is used to support ongoing prairie restoration projects, adding acres and diversity.

All are invited to come get away, learn and meet others at these upcoming prairie seed harvests:

Lend a Hand on the Land – A Prairie Seed Harvest
Saturday, September 22, 2018
1 – 4 p.m.
Snyder Heritage Farm, Elkhart, IA

This annual event brings together supporters, volunteers and staff from land trusts across Iowa. Learn about Snyder Heritage Farm, explore the prairie and help gather native seed to support its ongoing restoration. Stay after the harvest to hike around the prairie.

Seeds + S’mores
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
4 – 7 p.m.
Danamere Farms, Carlisle, IA

Lose yourself at Danamere Farms, a 117-acre family farm featuring remnant and restored prairie, a public bike trail and stunning views of the Des Moines skyline. Learn about the farm, explore the prairie and enjoy s’mores and a bonfire.

Breen Seed Harvest
Thursday, September 27, 2018
4 – 6:30 p.m.
Breen Prairie Farm, Monticello, IA

Explore beauty off the beaten path at the Breen Prairie Farm, 140 acres of native dry, rocky prairie, woodland, and working lands midway between Cedar Rapids and Dubuque. Stay after the harvest to hike around the prairie. Not usually open to the public, this INHF owned-and-managed prairie is permanently protected.

Seeds + Cider
Saturday, September 29, 2018
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Heritage Valley, Waukon, IA

Unrivaled in scope, Heritage Valley encompasses more than three miles of the Upper Iowa River in northeast Iowa. The property boasts a diverse mix of habitats including stunning hillside prairies, woodlands and floodplains – all managed primarily for native plants and wildlife. Hike up the hillside to help gather native seed and enjoy the view before heading back down for apple cider.

Snyder Heritage Farm Seed Harvest
Saturday, October 6, 2018
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Snyder Heritage Farm, Elkhart, IA

Spend an autumn morning learning about this 154-acre nature oasis, exploring its prairie and gathering native seed to support its ongoing restoration. Stay after the harvest to hike around the property's prairie, woodland and oak savanna.

Moonlight Seed Harvest
Saturday, October 20, 2018
5 – 7 p.m.
Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, Maxwell, IA

Join Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Polk County Conservation to hand harvest native prairie under the near-full Hunter's Moon. Seed collected will be used to diversify and expand the prairie at Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt, a ten-mile nature preserve north of Des Moines.