Increasing Seed Supply in Ontario
Since 1994, one of FGCA’s core goals has been to increase the supply of high-quality, source-identified seed of Ontario’s native woody species. Source-identified seeds are critical to optimizing forest restoration so that the trees planted live for a long time. This principle is true whether it be one tree in your urban yard or 10,000 trees to help restore a rural watershed. Learn about the importance of seed source when planting trees.
Seed Collection Workshops
Ontario’s Natural Selections is a voluntary, woody plant seed source certification program of the Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA). Seeds and plants sold under this label are certified by the FGCA to be from the identified source, so consumers can decide where it will grow best. We focus on the education of consumers, seed collectors and growers for better planting success. Growers adhering to Ontario’s Natural Selections are listed in the Society of Ecological Restoration’s 6th Native Plant Resource Guide for Ontario (2011).
Why Get Certified?
High-quality seed and source documentation (where the seed came from) start 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. CSCs sign a Code of Ethics and Practices. For those new to seed collection, the FGCA has organized two ways to become educated and certified, in partnership with Forests Ontario.
2-day CSC Workshop
This workshop is the full CSC curriculum including classroom learning with seed samples and potentially, a hands-on experience with an organized seed collection in the local area. Participants learn about:
- What it takes to be a seed collector
- Ontario’s natural forest types and ecological niche of major species
- Current market demand and major seed buyers/growers
- Current afforestation and restoration programs using source-identified seed
- Flower and seed biology, reproductive cycles and environmental effects
- Genetic diversity and adaptive variation with woody species
- Ontario’s current Seed Zone or Transfer policies
- Physiological seed quality: cut tests, maturity indicators, insects and disease
- Seedlot registration information and the chain of custody
- Seed forecasting
- Collection methods
- Field storage and shipping best practices
Workshops fees include meals and one Seed Manual per participant. Costs are determined with the host organization and our partners. After the workshop, CSC registration includes signing the Code of Ethics and passing an open book exam (minimum 70%).
1-day Mentoring Workshop
- For new CSCs that want more experience before handling their own contracts with seed buyers. Trainers review the key objectives of the CSC program but dive deeper into practical aspects of seed collection planning, field storage and shipping.
- For existing CSCs who want to learn about additional species.
- For people who want to invest in one day before deciding if full certification is something they want.
Sign Up for 2019 Workshops
Please fill out the form below to be notified of upcoming workshops in your area. Attendance is a minimum of 15 people and a maximum of 25 in a regional area (typically Southwest, Central and Eastern Ontario). Workshops are planned with our partners each year to serve the needs of local planting agencies and growers, and how far interested participants are willing to travel.
Workshop fees are determined at each event based on host/rental space availability and any funding available to offset delivery costs. If you are an organization wishing to host a workshop specifically for your staff, students or members, please note the details in the form below.
Note that workshop planning to demonstrate real seed collection is difficult and can be cancelled on short notice if crops abort in extreme weather or from insect damage.
Resources for Certified Seed Collectors
Materials provided at CSC Workshop:
- Seeds of Ontario’s Trees & Shrubs field manual (March 2014)
- Insects of Seed Cones in Eastern Canada field guide (Turgeon, de Groot and Sweeney 1992), PDF free: http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/ pubwarehouse/pdfs/33708.pdf
Suggested Basic identification and Propagation Books:
- Trees in Canada (Farrar 1995)
- Shrubs of Ontario (Soper and Heimburger 1994), online: https://archive.org/details/ shrubsofontario00sope
- Trees of the Carolinian Forest (Waldron 2003)
- Growing Trees from Seed (Kock et. al 2008)
- The Woody Plant Seed Manual (Bonner and Karrfalt 2008), PDF free: https:// rngr.net/publications/wpsm
- Your own seed survey book for forecasts and collection records
Typical Tools for Seed Forecasting & Collection:
- Appropriate field clothes and footwear (no shorts or sandals)
- Binoculars for forecasting
- Jackknife, secateurs or cone knife
- Tarps or shade cloth
- Measuring cans/pails (10-20L, 40L = standard cone measure)
- Pole pruners and/or pole hook
- Tubs and tote bins
- Gloves and hand cleaner (for pitch)
- Burlap bags and linen tags
- Hand lens for magnifying seed samples
- Pail and water for float tests
Safety and Emergency Planning Considerations:
- Physical abilities of participants and site accessibility
- First aid kit and sun protection, high-visibility clothing
- Precautions re ticks, poison ivy, allergies, severe weather.
- Fall-arrest training and harness for ladder work
- Road and vehicle safety
Access to Natural Areas for Collection:
- Permission to access and collect from landowner/manager
- Good viable populations that result in high-quality seed (avoid one lone tree collections)
Seeds of Ontario Trees & Shrubs Manual
FGCA is pleased to offer the Seeds of Ontario Trees & Shrubs manual as part of the CSC workshop or as a standalone reference. It is the result of more than 30 years of input from experienced seed collectors across Ontario. It revises and replaces the 1996 Seed Manual for Ontario.
To order a copy please contact us. ($55 plus tax; reduced rates for FGCA members and Certified Seed Collectors and for bulk orders).
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. We hope all seed collectors will use it to forecast and collect high quality, source identified seed to help ensure the success of Ontario reforestation efforts.
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 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 plan 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.
We want to hear from all new and existing users of the Manual to help us improve it. We aim to support anyone looking at seed to get better over time. Please email email@example.com with comments regarding the Manual.