Media Contact:
Kieran Paulsen

For Immediate Release
The Clifton Institute and Virginia State University awarded $200,000 Grant to Launch the

Native Wildflower Seed Industry in Virginia

WARRENTON, VA (Date, 2022) — The Clifton Institute is pleased to announce it has received
a Conservation Innovation Grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to
fund a new program called The Virginia Native Seed Pilot Project. This project will launch the
native seed industry in Virginia, which will make it possible to plant ecologically appropriate
wildflower meadows.
There is substantial demand for seeds of native wildflowers and grasses for pollinator friendly
solar installations, meadow plantings, and roadside revegetation in Virginia. But seeds of
several species of plants that are common in native grasslands in the state, and beneficial for
pollinators, are unavailable from seed companies. Furthermore, seeds of most species that are
available have out-of-state genetics, which limits their utility to restore plant communities and
provide pollinator habitat. These plants often bloom at the wrong time for our local insects or
they’re too tall or too short.
“Native plants, especially native plants with local genetics, are crucial for supporting native
insects, birds, and other wildlife,” says Clifton Institute Executive Director Bert Harris. “Not being
able to buy the seeds of plant species native to Virginia, let alone from Virginian populations, is
a critical obstacle to creating pollinator habitat statewide.”
The grant will fund a new Native Seed Coordinator position at The Clifton Institute. The Native
Seed Coordinator with work with partners and volunteers to collect seeds of 15 species of
wildflowers and grasses across the state. A new greenhouse at the Clifton Institute will also be
partly funded by the grant and seedlings will be grown to then be transplanted in farmers’ fields.
Virginia State University and Clifton Institute staff will work to establish a network of local
producers who can serve as a commercial source of native seeds. In particular, the project will
focus on equipping underserved farmers with the tools and skills they need to grow and sell this
new high value crop. Other key partners in the project are the Virginia Dept. of Conservation
and Recreation, Virginia Dept. of Wildlife Resources, the Nature Conservancy, Ernst
Conservation Seeds, and the Capital Region Land Conservancy.

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The Clifton Institute is a Northern Virginia-based non-profit dedicated to inspiring a deeper
understanding and appreciation of nature, studying the ecology of our region, restoring habitat,
and conserving native biodiversity. We provide environmental education to people of all ages,
carry out ecological research, and restore habitat for native plants and animals. Our 900-acre
property in central Fauquier County, which is permanently protected under a conservation
easement, provides a beautiful and easily accessible environment for our programs. For more
information, visit, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.