Where Seeds Fall

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Background 

The city is a living, breathing ecosystem. If one leaves unpaved ground to itself, it begins to sprout even beside the busiest streets. This is the vitality of nature. In summer, the city air is full of plant seeds landing somewhere, germinating there, and becoming a new plant. As the designers of urban spaces, however, we can influence which seeds fill our skies. If we plant interesting, native, and bee-friendly wildflowers in the city, the seeds in the air would soon change and more of these plants would germinate throughout the city. The individual patches of vegetation in the city are interlinked: the plants in one area produce the seeds which then travel through the air and germinate in a different area. 

With the ETH Citizen Science project “Wo Samen fallen” (Where seeds fall) we want to investigate this effect of urban biodiversity. We aim to document which plants grow spontaneously in the city and how this depends on the quality of the surrounding green spaces. The more diverse greenery there is in the surrounding area, the more seeds can reach your own garden. 

A Citizen Science project for you to join 

Curious about which seeds may be ending up in your garden? We provide volunteers living in Zurich or Aarau with seed trays (40cm x 30cm x 9cm) which can be placed in private gardens or on balconies. After having filled these trays with new potting soil, all you have to do is to wait and see what plant arrives and grows up! You can upload pictures of your trays to our website to show us what species are growing and how the plants change over the summer. Trays can be picked up at the office of Kevin Vega (kevin.vega@env.ethz.ch) in building CHN of the ETH, Office G28.1, Universitätstrasse 16, 8092 Zürich. 

For more information or if you are interested in taking part please contact psc-expeditionen@ethz.ch or visit our website.