May 16, 2019 – Westchester County’s Hilltop Hanover Farm received a $4,375 grant from the Bedford Garden Club to start a volunteer-run native plant nursery. The farm will use it to cultivate plants native to Westchester County including swamp milkweed, New York ironweed and bee balm. These plants are low maintenance, naturally adapted to thrive in our area and support our ecosystems.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said: “This grant will strengthen the ecosystems of Westchester County as we move towards our goal of increasing availability of native plants, and sharing knowledge of their use, maintenance and propagation.”

Volunteers will be trained by botanists, in a series of six classes, on plant culture and the collection, cleaning and propagation of seeds. Workshop leaders include New England Wild Flower Society Propagator Dan Jaffe, Highstead Operations Manager Geordie Elkins and Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank Consulting Botanist Molly Marquand.

Hilltop Hanover Farm Director Shanyn Siegel said: “The seeds collected in this program will be used to plant founder plots that can be harvested for seeds subsequent years so the nursery can continue to grow ecoregional native plants without over-harvesting from wild populations.”

The nursery will start production in June. The plants will be ready in the fall to be used in civic and local conservation projects, and sold to residents for ecological landscaping.

The program will support Executive Order No. 10 of 2018, which aims to preserve the natural heritage and restore biodiversity in the County. Additionally, it will support the many environmental organizations and initiatives in Westchester, including the Pollinator Pathway, Healthy Yards and pollinator-friendly solar.

Hilltop Hanover Farm will launch the volunteer program on Thursday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m. The New York Botanical Garden Director of the Thain Family Forest Jessica Schuler will discuss lessons learned from the New York Botanical Garden’s 120 years of garden management and share tips to use in your own garden with a focus on native plants.