Seed Swap follows Dr. Brian Campbell, an anthropologist living in the Ozarks, as he helps to organize a seed swap to be held March 1st 2008 in Mountain View, Arkansas. Prior to this Seed Swap the viewer takes a journey through the four seasons of growing and saving seeds with Conserving Arkansasís Agricultural Heritage (CAAH!), the organization based out of the University of Central Arkansas that Dr. Campbell formed to grow out seed to share at the swaps.
It is during this time that we experience the work involved it takes to save seed. The viewer also gets to know Dr. Campbellís motivations and meet several CAAH! Interns and volunteers and learn why they feel saving and sharing open-pollinated seed is so important. Hundreds of people and seed varieties attend the Inaugural Ozark Seed Swap. Folks travel from out of state to bring seed and to share. From the get-go the Seed Swap is not just a place to trade seed, but also to share heritage, stories, music and bring different generations and backgrounds of people together under the common theme of a more self-sufficient lifestyle.
Over a period of three years we watch as that first Seed Swap in 2008 sprouts seven new Swaps by 2010: six in the Ozarks and one in the Arkansas Delta. By this point the viewer is swept into the movement and after the last swap gets to take a float down Americas first national river, the Buffalo.
The Ozarks continue to be uniquely agrarian and rural, and throughout the film we meet diverse Ozarkers who maintain the agricultural traditions of saving and trading seeds. Many documentary films expose and emphasize problems with the industrial food system, but too few present practical solutions. The film showcases the utility of applied anthropology to get the public involved in more localized food systems, presents a wide range of open-pollinated, heirloom seeds of the Ozarks, and teaches the steps necessary to establish a community seed bank and host seed swaps.