Seed Processing Volunteers

by Abby Zaleski, Communications Student

Our Seed Processing volunteers work hard each week to clean seeds and package them for various programs and purposes. The Garden has a number of volunteers in this program, many of whom have been involved in helping out at the garden for over 30 years. I sat down with them during their Wednesday volunteer time one week to ask them a few questions about their favorite aspects of working here at the Garden.

When I arrived in the Totten Center, Anne Adams, Anne Varley, Tom Scott, and garden staff member Heather Summer were hard at work picking seeds out of pots and cleaning them for packaging. Another longtime volunteer, Bobbie Hahn, was not in attendance on this particular day. The group chattered away as they were working, and were eager to answer my questions about their experiences as volunteers at the garden. The group explained that they had each been involved in volunteering in various areas of the garden for close to or more than 30 years, however their job in the seed processing program is a more recent endeavor. The volunteers explained that usually all of the volunteers start helping out in different areas at the garden and move around to other areas as they are needed.

One of the largest endeavors the volunteers work on throughout the year, the Wildflower of the Year program, has been going on for over 30 years. Each year, the Garden selects one native plant, and the seed processing volunteers package and distribute the seeds to various garden clubs and individuals, along with information about the species.

“About 3,000 packages of seeds go out every year,” Heather explained. Thanks to funding from the garden club, the program has been able to continue to for as many years as it has, with hopefully many more years to come in the future.

When asked if they had ever cleaned or sorted seeds prior to volunteering in this position, Anne Varley explained that she had never sorted seeds to this extent. As a former master gardener, she had cleaned and sorted her own seeds previously, however it was not in the mass quantities that they are working with as they clean, sort, and package the seeds here at the Garden.

Each of the volunteers spoke volumes about how much they enjoy spending time volunteering at the NCBG. Tom Scott explained that it is the wonderful people that he gets to interact with here that make his experience so enjoyable, while Anne Adams said that she values the plant swapping and sharing that she is able to take part in as a volunteer.

“You make so many new friendships,” Anne Varley explained. Each of the seed processing volunteers expressed their love and gratitude for the people that they have met while volunteering at the NCBG, making it clear that helping out at the garden is more than just work. It is a family formed by gardeners coming together as volunteers, establishing friendship and comradery that lasts for many years.