By Katelyn Bava – Student Conservation Intern, Summer 2023

Every year The Nature Conservancy’s Kankakee Sands spends countless hours harvesting native plant seeds to plant in the 8,000 acres of prairie at Kankakee Sands. This summer at Kankakee Sands, I had many opportunities to harvest different kinds of seeds. The seeds harvested at Kankakee Sands can range from large prickly sedges to small delicate violets. At Kankakee Sands, we preserve the native plants that are very beneficial to our ecosystem. Several things I have learned are; the different ways you have to harvest the seeds, the timeline you have to harvest, and the process that comes after the harvesting. 

The steps for seed harvesting are: grabbing your supplies, cutting/collecting the seeds, drying the seeds, and separating the seeds from the stems. The supplies you will need are gloves, a paper or pop-up bag, and scissors or a hand sickle (a curved knife used mostly for cutting grasses).

 When cutting and collecting the seeds, we use a sickle or scissors to cut the stem, then put them into a paper or pop-up bag. Once we’ve collected the amount of seed needed, we bring them to the seed barn, where we spread out the stems on a metal screen. After 2 weeks, when the seed has dried in the seed barn, we will agitate the stems so the seed falls through the screen. After it falls through, we scoop the seeds into a bin where it is ready for the next step. 

For the last step, we take the bins and dump the seeds into a sifter where the seeds fall through, and the other debris stays separate. Although it may seem boring and repetitive, it is quite relaxing and peaceful. Seed harvesting can be very meditative and is great for our environment. For those who are interested, Kankakee Sands has volunteer days where you can help with seed harvesting. You can find out more at

Picture Credits: Alyssa Nyberg

Katelyn Bava is a 2023 graduate of South Newton High School. In the fall she will be attending Purdue and Ivy Tech to study Agriculture Education.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from the foundation.

You have Successfully Subscribed!