Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we have been trialing and growing vegetable varieties for over 20 years. Our farm-based seed company seeks to be a catalyst for the preservation and innovation of food seed biodiversity in the Great Lakes region, Midwest, and beyond, doing our part to build resilient, regionally-based, sustainable food systems that provide healthy food for all.
All of Our Seeds Are:
We Specialize in Seeds That Are:
- Locally Grown
- Heritage & Slow Food Ark of Taste
- Great Lakes/Midwest Regionally-Adapted
Over 50% of our 2017 seed offerings are grown locally in Southeast Michigan (Growers). Nature and Nurture grown seeds are grown at our 122-acre farm in Scio Township. We purchased our farm in 2013 and are transitioning to organic with the goal of becoming certified organic in 2017. As we develop a network of local seed growers, our goal is to offer as many locally grown and certified organic seeds as possible.
All our varieties are trialed and evaluated for vigor, yield and taste. Our trialing process involves growing different varieties of a crop from various sources and selecting the most vigorous and best tasting varieties. Researching and trialing is an ongoing process, and we are always working to expand our network of gardeners and farmers to test varieties under various soil types and micro-climates. We are pleased to include some Slow Food Ark of Taste Varieties in our offerings.
"Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, we pledge that we do not knowingly buy, sell or trade genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities."
Some of our goals are to:
We Educate About:
Erica Kempter and Mike Levine have been growing & trialing edible plants for over 20 years. Our seed obsession began in 2005 with our first breeding project. Since then we have spent over 5 years researching and documenting Great Lakes plant foods, their history, cultural stories and uses.
Meet the Founders:
Erica Kempter was first introduced to home grown food as a child. Always an eager helper in the garden, she always looked forward to biting into a cool, juicy, home grown tomato. These profound experiences would have a lifelong impact on Erica’s interests and passions. As a University of Michigan student in 1991, at a time when environmentalism, social justice, and healthy food were viewed as mutually exclusive categories, Erica “discovered” sustainable agriculture and became passionate about its ability to create tangible, enduring, positive change. In Michigan in the early 90’s, Erica found few outlets for her passion, so in 1994 she moved to California. And in 1996 she transferred to the University of California, Santa Cruz, which at the time was the only large university in the U.S. with an organic farm on campus. She graduated from UCSC with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies/Sustainable Agriculture and then completed UCSC’s Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, an internationally recognized organic farmer training program which has been a leader in the sustainable agriculture movement. Since then, Erica has filled many roles related to organic agriculture and food, including as an Americorps member working with school gardens and the Homeless Garden Project in Santa Cruz. In 1998, she was Youth Coordinator for the Detroit Agriculture Network.
In 2001 Erica, along with Mike Levine, founded Nature and Nurture LLC. They have been providing organic garden consultation, design, installation and maintenance full-time ever since. In 2004, Erica and Mike met John Navazio, an organic plant breeder who encouraged them to get into seeds and plant breeding. Erica was immediately struck by this new and amazing world filled with possibilities, and began several plant breeding projects of her own. In 2006, she developed and taught the Organic Gardener Certificate Program at Washtenaw Community College. In 2008, Erica founded the Homegrown Festival, an Ann Arbor, community-based event which educates about and celebrates local and sustainable food. She participated in the development of the Local Food Summit and has been an active member of the Leadership Team of Slow Food Huron Valley. Her involvement with Slow Food exposed Erica to RAFT's (Renewing America’s Food Traditions) “Place-Based Foods at Risk in the Great Lakes” after which she became obsessed with researching, preserving, and breeding new Great Lakes regionally-adapted foods. With Slow Food, Erica has been involved in the Heirloom Seed Project and Slow Food’s Ark of Taste.
Mike Levine has been obsessed with edible plants for his entire adult life. He has worked in the gardening, farming and ecological restoration fields since 1995. His first job, after graduating from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan, was to work for the Natural Area Preservation Division of Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation doing ecological restoration in city parks. The next season, he co-directed Project Grow Community Gardens and worked at several Ann Arbor area organic farms. Interested in sustainability, he studied the Fundamentals of Permaculture, a course in sustainable living at The Farm in Summertown, TN, where he first glimpsed shiitake mushrooms being grown at Mushroompeople by Frank Michael. In 1999, Mike worked at and managed Saguaro Plant Nursery (a rare and unusual plant nursery in the Ann Arbor area).
After extensive travels and a return to Michigan, Mike met Erica. In 2001, he and Erica founded Nature and Nurture, LLC, and have co-owned and managed it ever since. Nature and Nurture, LLC provides organic landscape maintenance, installation, consulting, design, and other related tasks. He currently runs a fruit nursery and orchard with many interesting and edible plants and taught Easy Organic Fruit Growing, a part of the Organic Gardener Certificate Program at Washtenaw Community College. Additionally, Mike has been studying taxonomy and field identification of mushrooms since 1996 in the Ann Arbor area and is an Approved Mushroom Identification Expert in the State of Michigan. In 2011, he studied Gourmet and Medicinal Mushroom Cultivation with Paul Stamets at Fungi Perfecti in Olympia, Washington, and he has been growing and selling shiitake mushrooms since 2001. He soon plans to build his own mycology lab on the Nature and Nurture Farm.