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culture, food
The Story of the Seed: Hudson Valley Seed Library

June 1, 2014

Like all great libraries, Hudson Valley Seed Library is filled with stories that have become essential elements of our culture. Yet, there’s no Hemingway or Austen here — for that matter, you won’t find a single paperback or hardcover. Rather, this library is dedicated to the most important part of our horticultural narrative: seeds.

The company’s founder, Ken Greene, comments, “I used to be a librarian at a small town public library. I began to see many parallels between books in a library and the need to preserve and share seeds. Every seed is a story. There’s the non-fiction story — the genetics of 12,000+ years of co-evolution with humans — and there are the cultural stories as well, the dramas, the memoirs, the tragedies, the tall tales, the travels, myths and sacred stories that come with seeds.” He continues, “I saw the library as a way to keep seed stories alive in the hands of farmers and gardeners.”

ken drowning in seeds parsnips and onionsKen Greene at the Hudson Valley Seed Library Farm in Accord, NY

Launched as a seed preservation venture, Hudson Valley Seed Library connects consumers with heirloom, open-pollinated garden seeds for vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Many of the seeds are cultivated in Accord, New York at the Hudson Valley certified organic farm. Of the seeds that are not sourced from their farm, Hudson Valley Seed Library works closely with a trusted network of small farmers and wholesale seed houses that are not affiliated with any multinational companies. This ensures, among other things, that a seed’s heritage is kept

art studio on the farm with dillgift zinnia and skyscraper sunflowersa corner of the farm going to seed with parsnip, radish, arugula, napa cabbage, lettuce, peas, garden cressHudson Valley Seed Library Farm in Accord, NY

On this point Ken remarks, “Over the last 100 years, and more strikingly over the last decade, we’ve seen a massive loss in global and local genetic diversity along with more restriction, in the form of patents and licenses, on our ability to save seeds. Through massive consolidation of seed resources by multinational corporations, particularly biotech, we’re losing our agricultural heritage.” This loss is akin to torching our agricultural library — these are our most essential stories, critical not just to our culture, but to our health. Ken points out, “We’re losing potential varieties that can help us create more sustainable regional food systems. By choosing to grow heirloom and open-pollinated varieties from independent seed sources like us, we’re rebuilding our community-based seed resources and starting to bring more diversity back to farmers and gardeners.” upstate oxheart heart To amplify the cultural importance of what they’re doing, Hudson Valley Seed Library enlists the help of talented artists to design the packaging for their many different varieties of seeds. “Our art packs are all about celebrating the diversity of our seed stories,” Ken explains. “Each pack is designed by a different artist. Selected artists create proposals for how they would like to interpret their variety through their unique perspective and materials. Art has included watercolor, stained glass, ceramics, collage, embroidery, etching, printmaking, oil painting and more.” Some examples of these creations are below.

Seed Pack Art


Explore the different varieties of Hudson Valley Seed Library seed packs, now available online or in-store.

All images via Ken Greene of Hudson Valley Seed Library