A truck with a bed of chicks and rabbits pulled into the back of the Holmquist Feedmill in the small town of Trenary, in the rural central Upper Peninsula. Connie from the Great Northern Poultry and Livestock Connection, directed the driver to back up into a ring of other vehicles with everything from fertilized peacock eggs to sheep.
The Trenary Fur and Feather Swap, like other swaps here in the central U.P. was booming last Saturday, May 27th with over 50 vendors and even more people seeking animals.
Connie said the swap hasn’t always been as lively. For a few years they thought the swap might die out when only 8 vendors showed up. Connie attributes this year’s success to renewed interest in local agriculture.
“People want to know where their food is coming from, they want to know how their food was treated.”
There are two more fur and feather swaps in Trenary this year, one on Saturday, June 24th and one on Saturday, September 9th. For the first time this year, there are also swaps at the Devooght’s Feed Mill in Skandia. One was in May and the next one is June 10th.
Olivia Devooght, one of the store owners, said they are hosting swaps because people expressed the need for them. There were over 300 people at the first swap from around the U.P. and more are expected at this month’s.
“We want the swap to be a family event. Even if people aren’t looking to swap animals, they can still come and show their kids the animals and have a good time.”
The store plans to continue to increase their support of the local food system as new owners by expanding to carry more local food products.
In addition to the animal swaps there are annual seed and plant swaps in the U.P. Organizations focused on supporting and increasing growing food in the Marquette area including Transition Marquette, MQT Growth, the MSU North Farm, Partridge Creek Farm and the Queen City Seed Library, have come together for the past several years to host one or both of the swaps in Marquette.
These types of swaps are important because they not only disperse animals, plants, and seeds, throughout the UP, but they also provide an opportunity for the exchange of knowledge between community members.
Melissa Orzechowski is the Local Food Coordinator for the Upper Peninsula. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org