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Wild Seed Project

The goal of Wild Seed Project is to build awareness of the vital importance of native plants and to provide people with the tools to restore biodiversity in their own communities. We equip community members, public officials and municipalities, and land-holding individuals and organizations – from farmers to land trusts – with the skills and resources they need to collectively repopulate landscapes with native plants that expand wildlife habitat, support biodiversity, and build climate resilience.

We work toward this goal through our core programs:

Seed Stewardship
Our Seed Stewardship program is about both conservation and access: each year, Wild Seed Project provides access to over 90 plant species native to the Northeastern U.S. through our online store. In 2022, we distributed over 20,000 seed packets to every county in Maine and throughout the Northeast. Seeds are hand-collected each year from wild plants in locations throughout the state, in partnership with the Wild Seed Project community. To date, we estimate that over 2.5 million native plants have been propagated from WSP-collected seeds.

Through our Seed Stewardship program, we work with a vibrant team of volunteer Seed Stewards to collect, clean, store, and package seeds. Education and training for Seed Stewards includes ethical collection practices to maintain the health and diversity of wild native plant populations. Seed Stewards not only support the operations of Wild Seed Project, but bring their knowledge and expertise back to their communities, where they in turn educate and mobilize neighbors, public officials, and other community stakeholders to return native plants to the landscape and restore habitat and biodiversity. 

Educational Programs
Our educational programs include hands-on workshops, lectures, webinars, Q&As with our staff horticulturists, plant identification walks, and rewilding yard tours. Read more about our upcoming educational programs here.

We publish an annual print guide each year that provides a rich array of resources focused on a particular type of native flora for beginners and experts alike. In 2021, we published Native Trees for Northeast Landscapes, and Native Ground Covers for Northeast Landscapes in 2022. We ceased publication of our magazine, Wild Seed, in 2019. Previous issues are available here.

In addition to our print publication, we provide extensive free resources on our website. You can find introductions to rewilding and gardening with native plants, guides on how to get started, what to plant, how to sow native seeds, and how to navigate buying native plants from nurseries, among many other things. 

Applied Ecology
Each year, we partner with local organizations and small businesses to design native plant demonstration landscapes, and restore biodiverse and wildlife-friendly habitats. Interested in working with us? We offer consultation and educational design services to local businesses, non-profit organizations, and municipalities. Get in touch to learn more

Past partnerships include Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Maine Beer Company, Cushings Island Land Trust, Harbor View Park (Portland), Friends of Congress Square Park, Cape Elizabeth Land Trust, Friends of Fort Williams Park, and Maine Audubon.

Our history
Wild Seed Project was founded in 2014 by Heather McCargo. As a lead plant propagator in the early 1990s, Heather saw firsthand the gatekeeping involved in native plant propagation. She rejected the dominant belief that it was a task that only the most highly-trained and educated scientists could take on. Yes, native seed sowing requires care and attention, but with clear guidance – anyone could do this. Not in a lab or a greenhouse, but on back porches, balconies, and city stoops. Anywhere, for anyone. Wild plants – and the food webs and wildlife they support – are losing out as we face expanding human impact, loss of biodiversity, and a rapidly warming climate. These plants have supported us, and all life on earth, for thousands of years. We must return to the practice of supporting them.

All of us have to get our hands in the dirt. All of us have to pay attention. All of us have to care. So that’s what we do – we’re building a movement of citizen ecologists collectively taking action to restore and transform our ecosystem. Join us.