Luhman: FAMP Helps Minnesota’s Northwoods Adapt

This week I wanted to share an opportunity for SFA farmers to transition the northwoods. Below is an article about the Forest Assisted Migration Project, authored by Joel Bransky, David Abazs, Gabrea Francis, and Leah Karmaker. -Jared

The northwoods of Minnesota are steadily disappearing. Researchers predict the forests in northeastern Minnesota will continue to decline as grasslands move in and dominate the landscape. This would change our way of life, cost us forest-related jobs, and reduce northwoods wildlife — unless we do something.

Minnesotans are stepping up to help the forests adapt. The Forest Assisted Migration Project (FAMP) is a collaboration between the University of Minnesota, The Nature Conservancy, and Sustainable Farming Association (SFA) farmers. The project’s primary goal is to transition the northwoods using broader genetics that can withstand unpredictable weather patterns, while channeling money spent on reforestation back into the local economy.

The project has three parts. First is tree seed collection. FAMP requires seeds from tree populations in central and southern Minnesota. Farmers in these regions who have valuable species (including white pine, basswood, yellow birch, and most oaks) could collect and sell the tree seeds to northern growers. This offers a financial opportunity for SFA farmers throughout Minnesota. Farmers who aren’t interested in collecting seeds could help us map their tree populations.

The second part is developing a growers network. Beginning in 2021, northern nurseries and farmers will plant the tree seeds and grow them into one-year-old seedlings. As the demand for climate-forward tree seedlings increases, more farmers will be needed.

The third part is increased partnerships between the growers network and regional reforestation agencies. In spring 2022, the growers network is committed to selling 40,000 seedlings to the Nature Conservancy, who will plant the seedlings on land in northeastern Minnesota. Over the next 50-100 years, these seedlings will grow into the new forest canopy.

Starting in December, forestry and tree nursery experts will train growers in areas such as business planning, growing methods, and seed collection. The first training, on December 17th at 7:00pm, will cover business planning, and other trainings will follow every two to three weeks. If you would like to attend, please send an email to one of the project staff below. We welcome anyone with an interest in this project, even if you don’t plan to grow tree seedlings.

We hope you’ll join the team!

Contacts: Northeast RSDP staff David Abazs ( and Joel Bransky (, or Greater Mille Lacs SFA staff Gabrea Anderson (

12/11/20 Update: Experts from the University of Minnesota’s Cloquet Forestry Center will be presenting on FAMP on December 17, 2020 at 7 PM. To join the Zoom meeting, email Joel Bransky ( or David Abazs ( and they will send you the link.