The Irvine Ranch Conservancy Native Seed Farm got its start in 2009, temporarily utilizing a small parcel of a burned-out avocado orchard damaged in the 2007 Santiago Canyon Fire. The original 12.5-acre farm was created because of the huge need for seeds and young plants to support the Conservancy’s aggressive goal of restoring almost 5,000 acres of native habitat.
Without the Farm, there was not enough native seed available for purchase to supply the restoration projects – up to a ton a year – and many species were simply not available. What’s more, if the Conservancy were to collect that much native seed from healthy habitats, it would deplete the natural seed bank, causing more problems for the land down the road. The answer was the Native Seed Farm.
Since then, the Native Seed Farm has relocated and expanded to 14 acres, providing the public with a unique opportunity to actively participate in the restoration of sensitive habitats. Volunteer work is critical to the Farm’s operation, and coming to volunteer at the Farm and provides the public with a unique opportunity to actively participate in the restoration of sensitive habitats! The farm is at a flat, easy-to-access site, and the garden-like setting feels comfortable even for folks with little outdoor experience. The new site on Jeffrey Road in Irvine provides improved facilities and easier public access, with more on-site capacity for all stages of farming – cleaning and storing of seeds as well as harvesting and planting.
To celebrate the re-opening of the farm in 2016, community volunteers helped planted 15,000 native seedlings that winter; today, 45 species – some rare – are planted on 8 acres. Volunteers work to help us grow and harvest the seeds, which support restoration projects throughout the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. All projects that the farm’s seeds go to are managed by the Conservancy and are funded by partners such as OC Waste & Recycling, the Orange County Transportation Authority, OC Parks, and the City of Irvine.
From day one, the farm has thrived due to support and involvement from the public and volunteers, including plant biology and ecology interns from local universities, community service projects with local organizations and schools, and regular public volunteer activities open to the public two days a week. No previous experience is needed, and everyone (not just green thumbs!) will find the work pleasant and rewarding. Click here to learn more about volunteering at the farm!
The Native Seed Farm has two goals: to provide the local community a connection to the land and to provide a reliable source of quality seeds for restoration projects. The Native Seed Farm is an outstanding example of bringing people and land together for the benefit of both.
For a list of upcoming events at the Native Seed Farm, click here.