The Ecotype Project

The transformation of Connecticut’s landscape poses a significant threat to the food production in existing farms and gardens. The growth of crops is highly dependent on a thriving population of pollinators, which themselves rely on native plants. 19% of Connecticut’s native plants are listed as endangered and the remaining populations are diminishing. As a result, there is a rapid decline in our pollinator populations.

Ensuring the stability of our food system necessitates the restoration of native habitats. The Ecotype Project initiative collaborates with farms, gardens, land trusts, and public lands with the aim of enhancing the prevalence of native plants in our region. This is accomplished by cultivating seed crops of Connecticut’s native pollinator plants sourced from open spaces. These seeds are then distributed to nursery growers and homeowners, facilitating the growth of plants vital for reviving native pollinator habitats.

*This project is run by CT NOFA. Find more information at https://ctnofa.org/programs/the-ecotype-project/

Eco59

Ecotypes are plants that are native to each ecoregion. The majority of Connecticut, along with a few other northeastern states, are in ecoregion 59. This was determined by scientists, hydrologists, and geologists who created new maps of ecoregions. It is best to plant native species in the ecoregion that they originate from.

In 2019, a group of Connecticut farmers were given plants native to ecoregion 59. The farmers started small plots of wild seed that were then gathered according to strict collection protocols. The goal is to increase the native plant seed supply in ecoregion 59 and help redistribute them. Ecosystems depend on these plants that are native to the region. This type of farming is called conservation agriculture and is essential to help protect and grow ecosystems.

Find more information about eco59 at: https://www.eco59.com/learn

Our Contribution

Bethany Farm and Nursery is excited to contribute to the Ecotype Project. So far, we have two founder plots: blue lobelia and blue wood aster. We started growing our founder plots in 2021 and completed our first seed harvest at the end of 2023. We sent these seeds to Highstead, which is a regional conservation and ecological stewardship non-profit in Connecticut. Highstead will clean the seeds for us and package them for distribution to help spread true native plants across eco59.

Eco59
Blue Wood Aster

Blue Wood Aster

Blue Lobelia