Farming in Northern Michigan: Web-Based Seed Exchange

Farming in Northern Michigan: Back in the day, a farming region naturally evolved a local seed stock tailored to the particulars of its growing conditions. Northern Michigan farmers kept seeds from their biggest and best produce. They traded seeds with other Northern Michigan farmers at seed exchanges. Each year, produce improved.

But then, same old tale … big companies took over, Northern Michigan farmers bought seed from nation suppliers, and the connection to specific regions like Northern Michigan vanished. Now Benzie farmer Craig Schaaf and his compadres in the local organic farming movement have set out to take the venerable seed exchange idea and go digital with it: a web-based seed exchange where farmers can buy and sell seeds from produce that grew grand and luscious right here in Northwest Michigan.

For consumers, especially local food mavens like Traverse City chef Myles Anton at Trattoria Stella, the seed exchange will mean steady progress in quality of produce. And for farmers, it could mean more income. "A butternut squash sells for about 75 cents," Schaaf says, "but it has about $24 worth of seeds in it." Check the exchange at

Watch Videos about the Northern Michigan Local Foods Movement

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