Nestled in a valley in Irvine lies the Irvine Ranch Conservancy Native Seed Farm, a 14-acre plot of land where native grasses, bushes, and wildflowers are grown to produce seeds that get used to restore and enhance native habitat throughout the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks. Volunteers who want to give back to nature but aren’t looking to hike out to remote restoration sites in hotter summer temperatures are invited to spend upcoming Wednesday and Saturday mornings harvesting seed at the farm.
The Native Seed Farm is a flat, easy-to-access site where volunteers can enjoy a light breeze, occasional shade covering and on-site restrooms while harvesting seed. The farm harvests as much as 1,000 pounds of seeds per year – enough to fuel projects at sites within the Landmarks' expansive canyons and nature preserves. During the month of August, volunteers will harvest seeds from late summer plants such as mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana), a perennial bush with small yellow-green flowers that hold tiny but powerful seeds. Two aromatic sages – black sage (Salvia mellifera) and white sage (Salvia apiana) – will also be ripe for harvesting, along with California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), a sturdy and productive bush with charming "poof ball" flowers. Later in the summer, volunteers can look forward to harvesting California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), a popular bush that’s also known as “cowboy cologne” due to its pleasing scent.