What do we mean by this icon, "hand-collected?" Many of the more readily available species of California native plants are already grown on a large scale. These are the species that we offer in bulk, from packets to pounds.
However, we are also dedicated to trialling many species that, for a variety of reasons, are not yet available in bulk. We are constantly on the lookout for the many worthy flowers, grasses, and shrubs that have not yet been incorporated into the native plant palette. Sometimes they are less showy species that still have an important role in California's ecology. Sometimes they are beautiful but are a bit too tricky to grow on a large scale. Often, we collect a small amount of seed in the wild to grow out in our several trialling growing grounds.
In certain situations, we can gather from the wild in our Mendocino field station. We find that the traditional method of seed-beating, which is actually more gentle than it sounds, works well for us. Using this method, those seeds that have not yet ripened are left in place to ripen on the plant, while those that are mature, fall into the gathering bowl.
This labor-intensive form of seed collecting and cleaning is what we mean by "hand-collected." These species are so far usually available only by the packet. This may be a first step towards becoming available in bulk, or else, these species may require that we continue to hand-collect only, maintaining this intimate and satisfying interaction.