What’s in your refrigerator? Is there some healthy produce, maybe jam from the farmer’s market, and that questionable container of leftovers? At Nature & Nurture Farm, the fridge has a different role. Look inside and you will find glass jars, paper envelopes and bags, full of organic and rare heirloom seeds.
“I try to find the stories behind the culinary and agricultural traditions from this area. A lot of that information is lost, so we are trying to recover that,” said Erica Kempter, seed farmer and co-founder of Nature & Nurture Seeds.
The seeds in storage have come from all over the world, but most varieties have been grown in Michigan or the Great Lakes region for generations. Many of the seeds in storage were grown in Kempter’s own backyard.
Starting as a hobby, Erica’s passion for seed saving developed into a business once she gained access to farm land. Erica and her business partner, Mike Levine, now own and manage 122 acres of certified organic land in Scio Township, MI. In addition to growing heirloom seeds, the diversified farm produces shiitake mushrooms plus a variety of fruits, herbs, and vegetables for sale at Argus Farm Stop and a few local restaurants.
“Even our best organic farms are often not using local seeds. One of our goals is to build a sustainable seed system in the region where eventually organic farmers will have a lot of options for locally grown seeds,” Kempter said.
Starting in 2014, Nature & Nurture Seeds has steadily increased their offering to more than 125 heirloom varieties. Some of the most popular seeds have been the Early Detroit Tomato, Grand Rapids Lettuce, and the Chicago Pickling Cucumber. The company also offers some unusual varieties, including Pawpaws, a delicious native tree-fruit sometimes called, “Michigan Banana.” Kempter believes that locally produced seeds are essential to a community driven food system.
“Seeds are the foundation of a local food system. Locally grown seeds are better adapted, more robust, and put money back into our economy. We feel good knowing that seeds are being brought back to the Great Lakes region, and that our network of seed growers is keeping seeds out of the hands of multinational corporations.”
There is still time to order seeds for your 2018 garden! The Nature & Nurture Seeds catalog can be found here. Their website has tons of useful information including growing instructions, planting dates, recipes and more. You can also contact the business directly if you would like a print catalog mailed to your home or business (firstname.lastname@example.org; 734-929-0802). For more local seed content, you can follow Nature & Nurture Seeds on Facebook, or subscribe to their monthly newsletter.
Michael Lordon is the Farm Manager of Nature and Nurture Seeds. Find more information at natureandnurtureseeds.com.