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People Ask Our Native Landscaping Staff: “What Do You Do All Winter?”

Those of us working at Prairie Restorations, Inc., are often asked this simple question. What do we do all winter? It is fair, given the nature of our work. You might think that an operation based on growing plants comes to a halt once the weather turns cold. But like farmers will tell you, just because the calendar shows the year is coming to a close, our work isn’t.

Yes, we’re focused on seed harvesting right now, but once those seeds have been collected, we don’t get to rest. Believe it or not, there are a number of things we take care of once it turns cold.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, there is a lot going on for us in winter. During much of the colder months, our services crews are still out in the field on landscape management and other projects. Most of this involves working in the woods, removing buckthorn and other invasive woody species on both public and private properties.

Other types of winter work include stream restoration projects, where frozen soil is needed in order to excavate new stream channels. We work closely with excavators helping to create the new stream banks using various bio-engineering techniques. (Then in the spring we’ll return to those sites and plant a wide array of live plant materials to help stabilize the soil and create an ecologically healthy landscape.)

But the field crews aren’t the only ones still on the job. The Products Department spends the winter months cleaning the seed that was harvested the previous fall. This process includes removing the chaff and other debris from the seed, bagging the cleaned product, and then sending off samples to independent labs for testing.

And later on near the end of winter, we’ve got work to do in preparation for the spring season. In the native plant world, seedlings are started in the propagation greenhouse, typically in February, so that the plants will be ready to go come May 1st. It’s always a treat to visit this greenhouse in February where the temps are very balmy!

In Sales and Marketing, there is a lot going on this time of year as well. Proposals are being written for potential new projects in the upcoming season. We also bid on a lot of restoration projects that are generated by various entities including cities, non-profits, watershed districts and commercial businesses. In marketing, we are busy creating our strategy for the upcoming year and trying to determine how to best reach our potential customers.

So that’s just a small look into what really goes on here at PRI during the long winter months. Plus we’ve found that the time goes by quickly, and then spring and the next planting season are upon us. But right now we’re enjoying collecting the fruit of our labors as we harvest Minnesota native plant seeds and get ready for what’s ahead.

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