With their expertise in restoring native landscapes in the Midwest, the MJV has enlisted the Tallgrass Prairie Center (TPC) as a partner to aid in the monarch conservation movement. The Tallgrass Prairie Center is housed at the University of Northern Iowa and is directed by Laura Jackson, co-editor of The Farm as Natural Habitat: Reconnecting Food Systems with Ecosystems.
The UNI Tallgrass Prairie Center Natural Selections program has been developing Iowa regional Source-Identified foundation seed for the commercial seed industry for over 20 years. In doing so, the Center promotes genetically appropriate native plant material for commercial production. Approximately 200,000 lbs of Source-Identified certified seed is produced annually by commercial seed producers.
Through the Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management (IRVM) Program, the Tallgrass Prairie Center has established partnerships with state and county right-of-way managers across Iowa to incorporate native grasses and wildflowers as part of a truly “integrated” approach to managing roadsides. In doing so, this partnership has also increased demand for native seed production, including milkweed species.
In partnership with the MJV, the Tallgrass Prairie Center has plans in place to assess and improve the economic viability for Aslcepias syriaca, common milkweed. Asclepias sp. seed is available for purchase in Iowa, but prices are often very high, creating a market stalemate. TPC will work with Iowa native seed producers to assess current commercial market conditions for A. syriaca and will investigate barriers to production, sale, and demand for the seed. This is a big first step in improving the commercial native milkweed seed market!
We are excited about the proficiency that the Tallgrass Prairie Center brings to the MJV partnership and can’t wait to see their efforts in milkweed conservation progress.
Learn more about the Tallgrass Prairie Center by visiting their website: http://www.tallgrassprairiecenter.org/