Native Seed Farming Opportunities in the Southwest

posted in: Seed saving | 8
Field of blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis) going to seed at Bamert Seed Company. Photo courtesy of the Institute of Applied Ecology.

Restoration practitioners in the Southwest region use native seed for many purposes including wildfire revegetation, rangeland restoration, erosion control, and reclamation after oil and gas development. Each year a huge quantity of seed is used across our region, but historically the seed that is available commercially may not be suitable for the arid Southwest. While it is great news that the demand for ecologically appropriate native seed for use in Southwest restoration projects is at a record high, the supply has not caught up with this growing demand. Seed users identify this lack of species diversity and local seed sources as a major barrier to restoration success in our arid ecosystems.

The Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE) and Southwest Seed Partnership (SWSP) are responding to this need by working with local farmers to grow locally sourced seeds. IAE SW coordinates this partnership, providing contracts to both large- and small-scale farmers to grow SWSP seeds in farm fields to increase seeds available for restoration. This benefits native plant species and the animals that rely on them—as well as farmers by diversifying their land and income and improving ecological services to their farms. 

Call for New Mexico Farmers: Native Seed Production with the Southwest Seed Partnership

The Southwest Seed Partnership (SWSP) is seeking to contract small scale production fields (1/10th – 1 acre per species) and nursery seedling production for native species.

Demand for native seed for ecological restoration is increasing, but few farmers in New Mexico are producing these crops. SWSP is a bridge between land managers who need native seed and native seed farmers in the region. We support this emerging industry by providing guidance, grant writing support, foundation seed, and funding to growers.

Native seed production can diversify your crop portfolio while improving soil structure and attracting beneficial insects and pollinators. SWSP promotes native seed crops that intentionally have high levels of genetic diversity which can be more challenging than traditional crops as they can lack uniformity and information about best cultivation and harvesting practices.

This sector is ideal for pioneering growers who enjoy research and want to develop new knowledge in an emerging field. The SWSP recognizes the value-added quality of locally appropriate native seed and educates potential buyers about the benefits of this premium product.

8 Responses

  1. Peter Callen

    Thank you Isabella for letting everyone know about this great opportunity for growing out native seed!

  2. Roxy Sanchez

    Hi , my name is Roxanne Sanchez . I am a farmer in Vadito and a Penasco NM. I am very interested in this opportunity and want to learn more and see how we can work together 🙂

  3. Weston Marlatt

    My name is Weston Marlatt
    I am a seed farmer in Trampas NM. I am interested in growing your seed.
    Thank you.

  4. Katheryn L Miller

    I have a small patch i’d love to grow native grass on! It’s on the Rio Grande in Embudo. Let me know if I can get some seeds.

  5. Chris West

    We have a 5 acre plot watered by an acequia and wonder if this would be suitable for your project.
    Chris West

  6. Erika Lucero

    I can grow small scale. I’ve been collecting and spreading native seeds on my property esp in the last year. Interested in more….

  7. admin

    Thank you all for your interest in this opportunity! We’ve passed your info on to the Southwest Seed Partnership and they will be in touch with you. It’s exiting to see this much enthusiasm!

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