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Native Plants Program 2023 Recap

As part of our commitment to nurturing the environment and fostering community engagement, we're excited to share a recap of the recent activities within our Native Plants Program at Hilltop!

Thriving Partnerships & Community Connection

Our 4,000+ plant and seed donations to The Norwalk River Watershed Association, Highstead Arboretum, Rockefeller State Park Preserve, BOCES, The Ecotype Project, Wildwoods Restoration, to name a few, are fortifying our bonds with local organizations. Notable contributions include a pollinator garden at the Westchester Compost Facility, support for planting Mimulus ringens at Rye Nature Center, and a NYS DOT highway pollinator meadow through EcoPel.  We've also thoughtfully donated plants to enhance pollinator gardens all over Westchester County, including Yorktown's Veterans Park, The Hart Library, and the BOCES School. Collaborations with local growers, like Planters Choice, aim to enrich future county capital projects with locally sourced native plant materials. Engaging events such as the Healthy Yards Seed Swap event and a Heritage Hills group visit have allowed us to share our passion and insights with the broader community. Our active participation in workshops, meetings, and discussions with organizations like the Northeast Seed Network, Local 59, and H2H reflects our dedication to networking and knowledge exchange.

Educational Initiatives 

A transformative 6-week internship program empowered six high school students with hands-on experiences, from weeding seed plots to participating in ecological landscape design workshops. Dedicated native plant volunteers worked 600+ hours exclusively with the native plants team.  Throughout the season they were able to learn all aspects of growing out native plants & seeds.  Engaging with students from the New York Botanical Garden, and exploring techniques at Arthur's Point Tree Farm, Cornell Botanical Garden and Greenbelt Native Plant Center, reinforce our commitment to education and knowledge-sharing.

Conservation & Restoration Highlights

By spearheading and organizing steering committee meetings for Local 59 Plant Network, our new native plant materials supply chain initiative, shows Hilltop’s trailblazing efforts to expand local native plant & seed capacity. The planting of 18 new seed increase plots at Hilltop and 100 new wild seed collections for seed banking embody our dedication to conservation.  An innovative field project engaged 10 volunteers and 6 high school interns in covering over 800 ft. of seed production beds with eco-friendly materials, showcasing our commitment to sustainable growth.

Looking ahead

Next season we are looking forward to using our seed in various county restoration projects,  building our seed supply, advancing our seed cleaning proficiency, and experimenting with new sustainable growing practices here on the farm!

Thank you for your interest in our program, 

Emily Rauch and the Native Plants Team

Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center