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barns at Hamilton Native Outpost, Celebrating HNO in business for 40 years

A Passion for Native Plants: Hamilton Native Outpost Celebrates 40 Years in 2021

Our story began with an interest in warm season grasses for forage, but we quickly saw the beauty of the native wildflowers and began landscaping with them.  Then came the realization that wildlife and pollinators, of course, love the native plants and the native ecosystems, so we began to restore and plant glade, prairie, savanna, and woodland ecosystems.  Native plants are the common thread between these diverse land uses, and from this passion our expertise of establishing native plants from seed grew. 

Rex Hamilton planted his first warm season grass pasture in 1972, shortly after warm season grasses were “invented” for forage (the irony is that bison grazed these grasses long before humans ever thought of planting forages).  The standard forage had become fescue, an introduced cool-season grass, and planting pastures of warm season grasses really made sense.  In 1981, he married Amy and they began to harvest and sell seed of the warm season grasses under the company name of Hamilton Seeds. 

In search of seed to harvest for the newly created Conservation Reserve Program’s (CRP) efforts to reduce soil erosion during the mid-80’s, Rex and Amy found themselves exploring Missouri’s remnant prairies.  These unplowed grasslands, they discovered, contain a multitude of beautiful native wildflowers, and this led to harvesting wildflower seeds and creating a wildflower meadow in their backyard.  This was 1987, and all the wildflower seed harvest was done by hand under the hot, summer sun.  They also began to sell wildflower seed and plant tiny plots for seed production.  The seed from these tiny plots was then harvested and it allowed them to plant a little bigger plot, and eventually they were able to scale up and plant many acres.  Many things change and some stay the same, and today some wildflowers are still harvested by hand but most are machine harvested. 

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