Ontario’s Natural Selections is a voluntary certification program for woody species. Seed and plants sold under this label are certified by the Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA) to be from the source identified on the label. The consumer can then decide how appropriate it is for their planting project. We hope this program will help plantings in Ontario survive and thrive. This program will add resilience in the face of climate change and restore the many benefits we expect from our forests, both rural and urban. It is a 3-part program. The FGCA will:
- Educate consumers about successful planting practices, of which source-identified seed is a start.
- Encourage seed collectors and growers to supply and market high-quality source-identified seed and stock, and
- Administer the program with a system of documentation, registration, inspection and auditing.
High-quality seed and source documentation (where the seed came from) starts with the collector. Buyers are looking for high-quality seed from collectors trained to a standard set of best practices. Anyone can become certified if they take the time to learn about species characteristics, key aspects of seed quality, and proper collection, handling and documentation of seedlots.
Certified Seed Collector Course
This full Certified Seed Collector (CSC) course includes both classroom and field components. A combination of virtual and in person training provides attendees with the theory which supports the hands-on field portion providing a thorough review of seed forecasting and collection concepts and principles. This training focuses on native woody plant seed collection, but basic principles and best practices can be applied more broadly.
In this course we cover:
- What it takes to be a seed collector.
- Basic tree and seed identification within Ontario’s forests.
- The nature of afforestation, reforestation, and the seed industry in Ontario.
- Flower and seed biology as it relates to effective seed collection.
- Genetic diversity and adaptive variation within species.
- Best practices to ensure collection of high-quality seed, including physiological and genetic quality factors.
- Physiological seed quality testing methods (cut tests, maturity indicators, insect and disease assessments).
- Review methods for effectively collecting high quality seed and documenting source.
- Best practices for handling seed to ensure seed remains high quality from collection, to processing, up to storage and use.
- Tools and strategies to communicate with and create a relationship with buyers.
- And more!
Courses are run on a cost recovery basis and at this time we can not provide courses at a discounted rate. For reduced cost options discuss with us alternative forms of training such as our essentials only, virtual training option.
FGCA is pleased to offer the Seeds of Ontario Trees & Shrubs Field Manual for Crop Forecasting and Collecting manual as part of the CSC course or as a standalone reference. This full-colour manual is the result of more than 30 years of input from experienced seed collectors across Ontario.
Seeds of Ontario Trees & Shrubs is a comprehensive introduction for new seed collectors and a field-worthy companion for experienced collectors. The information is based on the practical experiences of current and retiring collectors, with the goal of mentoring a new generation of collectors on how to forecast and collect high quality seed.
Over 100 of Ontario’s native tree, shrub and vine species have been included. The manual is divided into 3 sections: Basics, Operations and Species. The Basics section contains background information on afforestation, plant biology and assessing seed quality. The Operations section describes forecasting, collecting, field storage and shipping. The Species section is divided by Conifers, Broadleaf Trees, Shrubs and Vines and then by Collection Season (Early, Mid and Late Season) so collectors can better schedule their activities. Within each of the colour-coded collection seasons, species are organized alphabetically by Latin name. Exact collection dates may vary from year to year, but the progressive order of seed maturation across Ontario’s diverse landscape should be reliable.
Partners and Programs
The FGCA works with many seed buyers located across Ontario. For a listing of our partners please visit our partners page.