Erica is the founder, seed company manager, and seed production manager at Nature & Nurtue Seeds. You will find her wearing a lot of hats around here!
Erica 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 the early 1990s Erica studied Environmental Studies, African-American Studies, Native American Studies, Women's Studies, and Social Justice but was looking for something that could combine them all. Erica “discovered” sustainable agriculture and food justice and became passionate about their 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 as well as a History of Consciousness Department. 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 justice, 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. This inspired Erica's passion for locally-adapted, heirloom Seeds and N&N Seeds was born.