Holden Seed Bank

A seed bank for regional restoration at the Holden Arboretum.

Holden Forests & Gardens is working to combat climate change by fostering resilient forests throughout the region. The Holden Seed Bank is collecting, storing, and redistributing native seeds of local ecotype to support reforestation and restoration projects throughout Northeast Ohio and beyond.

Reforestation to Fight Climate Change

Reforestation is a natural solution to combat climate change, with proper forest management a close second. Restoring forests across Northeast Ohio increases biodiversity and wildlife habitat, mitigates climate through carbon sequestration, and ultimately, improves the health and resilience of our communities.

Reforestation Efforts Are Supply Limited

Efforts to build resilient forests are often met with the challenge of sourcing native plant materials grown from seed sourced locally within our region. We aim to address this gap in the native seed supply chain by coordinating collections and grow-outs of select native species to support restoration effort with locally-sourced plants, ultimately fostering resilient forests.

How the Holden Seed Bank Works

The Holden Seed Bank, funded in part by Parker Hannifin, serves as a regional hub to connect restoration partners for the centralization of seed collection and distribution of locally-sourced plants. Partners within this network will work together to foster healthy and resilient forests throughout the region.

Who the Holden Seed Bank Serves

Currently, we collect and accept seeds from northeastern Ohio and surrounding areas. Our seeds are locally adapted and best for use in restoration projects across those areas.

As an arboretum, we are focusing on tree and shrub species with an end goal of reforestation, but we are also coordinating the collection of herbaceous (forbs, grasses, sedges) species to meet the diverse needs of our partners and their habitat restoration needs in the future. 

How to Get Involved

We are looking to build collaborative partnerships with conservation organizations, government agencies, universities, native nurseries, and seed growers to collect or receive woody and herbaceous seeds of locally occurring native species.

We also rely on individuals within communities throughout the region to help with seed collection and cleaning efforts. If you are an individual interested in supporting resilient forests and would like to volunteer to collect seeds, or would like to volunteer your time in the seed bank at the Holden Arboretum, please reach out.

To get involved on behalf of a restoration-oriented organization or to volunteer as an individual, email Kimberly Lessman at [email protected]. Learn more about volunteering with Holden Forests & Gardens on our volunteer page.

For more resources, visit our Working Woods Resource Hub.

The Holden Seed Bank in the News

Learn more about our restoration efforts

A Seed Station for Forest Restoration

August 8, 2023

A Seed Station for Forest Restoration


Holden’s new seed bank project forms the core of new climate-fighting reforestation efforts across the region. In December, a crane dropped a fully loaded shipping container into the Holden Arboretum…. more

Seed Bank Staff

Kim Lessman

Kim Lessman

Seed Bank Manager

I am passionate about our natural world and have spent the last decade immersed in organic farming, addressing food insecurity in urban areas, and saving seeds in support of a regionally adapted seed supply. Though I’ve always been fascinated by a seed’s lifecycle and the story of its origin, my interest in large scale seed production and biological preservation really began after processing agricultural seed crops on an organic farm in the Puget Sound during a growing season a few years back. When I moved back to the Midwest in 2018, I started working with the Cleveland Seed Bank, a nonprofit organization with a mission to build a network of seeds savers.

Learn more about me

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