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MIDLAND, MI -- One of a do-it-yourselfer’s fondest dreams is to complete a project from start to finish. Whether it be wood, fiber, soap, candles or food, the idea is still the same. The process and the philosophy behind it are the primary concerns for those who are looking at this approach. A popular DIY is gardening with the ultimate goal being a meal made of foods grown locally.
Seed catalogs offer a wide variety of seeds ranging from vegetables to herbs with a myriad of choices such as hybrid versus open-pollinated. When working with open-pollinated seeds, the grower knows the produce will be consistent with what has been grown before which means it has been proven. One way to acquire proven seeds for your growing conditions, climate and area is to attend a regional seed swap. These events are growing in popularity as they pop up throughout the nation with several being held in the tri-state region.
The Central Michigan Seed Swap is one of many that has come into existence through the work of those who believe in seed saving and sharing. Ben Cohen of Small House Farm is one who has practiced these concepts and put them into print such as his book entitled From Our Seeds and Their Keepers where he shares stories and practices. He is an active participant in the Central Michigan Seed Swap.
“While all the other ideas are important such as self-sufficiency and encouraging gardening, the building of community is the most important goal we have,” Cohen said. “It is great to see people involved in a like-minded cause such as the seed sharing movement and networking at these events.”
The unifying of a diverse group of people is also a positive outcome of swaps like these. He shared a story about a group who travels to various conferences speaking about the importance of seeds. One evening meal stop caused him to pause and see those sitting at the table with him. Cohen realized the various geographic regions, religions and status represented in the group and how they were connected because of a tiny seed. He saw how passions pull people together for a common cause.
This year will be the fifth anniversary of the Central Michigan Seed Swap which is considered the largest seed swap in Michigan with an attendance of over 500 in 2018. The seed collectors came from neighboring states as well as Canada for the day long event. For 2019, the keynote speaker will be John Coykendall talking about “Saving the Living History of Our Heirloom Seeds.” Other presentations will be on pumpkins, tomatoes, micro-greens, seed libraries, grains and an initiative that will connect people with their native food ways. A children’s area will provide crafts with heirloom bean seeds and activities from the Chippewa Nature Center’s Ecosystem Gallery.
The seed swap will also feature free seeds from seed house donations as well as individual seed saver’s efforts. Vendors will be on hand with seeds, garden art, food and other related wares. The Central Michigan Seed Swap will be held on February 24 at the Chippewa Nature Center from 11 am to 4 pm. The event is free to the public.
For more detailed information about the Central Michigan Seed Swap, check out http://centralmichiganseedswap.com/.

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