Meet Seeds & Spores

Trinity Carey

Long before eating locally was a widespread notion many wanted to be a part of, there was Seeds & Spores. Seeds & Spores Family Farm is a small sustainable farm in south Marquette that supplies to local businesses such as The Marquette Food Co-op, The Marq, Sweetwater Cafe and the farmers market.

“I love it a lot because we sell just to the local community and we’re constantly working on the best way to farm and the healthiest way to create things,” said Niikah Hatfield, NMU sophomore and creative writing major and member of the Hatfield family who operates Seeds & Spores Farm.

re-SeedsSpores4The Hatfields started farming in Marquette over 13 years ago and now grow 10 acres of vegetables including kale, herbs, squash, medicinal herbs, beets, asian greens and more. They also raise pigs, cattle, turkeys, chickens and laying hens. Every- thing they do, they do organically.

The farm is Certified Naturally Grown versus their old title of Certified Organic, said Hatfield.

“It’s the same standards, but its certified farmer-to-farmer and there is no cost of having an inspector come from anywhere, so it’s cheaper and it’s a lot less paperwork, which means we have more time out in the fields,” she said.

Instead of pesticides the farm controls pests and weeds through freezing, picking off potato bugs, occasionally using organic sprays and a new method they’ve been trying—flame weeding, which involves using flames over garden beds to kill the weeds that come up before the germinating seeds.

“It’s a great way to get a head start,” Hatfield said. “Everything else is either hand-weeded or weeded with our old farm mill tractors.”

The farm also adds minerals to their soil for healthier crops. “We remineralize our soil, so we’re constantly adding natural minerals like kelp and sea salt back into the soil to replace the nutrients that the plants are taking out,” Hatfield said. “It’s just not authentic farming practice.” Seeds & Spores also offers a Community Sponsored Agriculture program which gives members a box of fresh produce weekly at a discounted price because they have committed to buying from the farm for a season, Hatfield said.

“We definitely go for more heir- loom varieties of veggies so things that have been around for a really long time. We grow a lot of heirloom tomatoes, that are all funky colors and shapes, purple potatoes, romanesco cauliflower that looks like a little geode,” she said.

“A lot of those old varieties that are taken out of mass production because they don’t produce as well or they’re smaller and less uniform, but they’re more hearty and much more delicious.”

The growing season in the U.P. is much shorter due to the cold weather, but the Hatfields are using this time to build a new farm store and certified kitchen where they can sell farm fresh food already prepared. During the summer, Seeds & Spores has eight full time employees including the Hatfield family parents Jeff and Leanne, daughter Nikkah and their two sons Rubin and Aleutian.

“We’re all a really tight knit group and were working towards this goal of better food and I get to manage the farmers market and see people get excited about it and educate people on eating locally,” Hatfield said.

Coming from a farming family has sparked Hatfield’s interest in food culture and on educating people of cheap and simple ways to be healthier, such as shopping at the farmers market versus a store, she said.

“One of the things is keeping the money in the local economy, then you are not investing in buying food from the other side of the country and investing in the fossil fuels to get that food to us,” Hatfield said.

Seeds & Spores offers students the opportunity to work on the farm during the summer as well as farm tours to classes and groups.

“My favorite part is living with the earth and with real people and the honest work of farming is something that is invaluable,” Hatfield said.