Saving seed is everything

Posted: Friday, May 20, 2016 12:30 am
By Tessa Edick
For Columbia-Greene Media
Do you know where your food comes from? Start with seed and soil.
At Empire Farm, we are invested in local right down to our seed with trustworthy sourcing just a hop, skip and jump away with no need for chemicals or confusion at the Hudson Valley Seed Library.
We forget that the term “seed money” has an agricultural origin. Today, it references an early capital investment in exchange for an equity stake in a business. When the term was invented in 1943, it was an idea that likely involved an eater and a farmer invested in food production. You practice the ancient idea today when you become a CSA member at a family farm. You invest your “seed money” in the farm buying an “equity share” while sharing the inherent risks of farming with the farmer you pay in advance for your crops, so he can get planning and planting early with cash flow to actually purchase the seed in need to feed.
A seed library is different from a seed bank. Seed libraries disseminate saved seed to the public with a view to preserving the plant varieties through propagation and further sharing of seed varieties to maintain collections by member donations serving both gardeners and farmers, while preserving agricultural biodiversity by focusing on local, regional, rare and heirloom varieties.
At the Hudson Valley Seed Library, my friend Ken Greene and his partner Doug Muller work tirelessly with a dedicated team to honor the tradition of seed and opt out of multi-national biotech suppliers. They offer only heirloom and open-pollinated seeds for vegetable, flower and herb varietals sourced exclusively from trustworthy folks, many of which they produce on their own gem of a farm in Accord themselves. As a certified organic farm and certified handlers, they signed the “Safe Seed Pledge” and adhere to Vandana Shiva’s Declaration of Seed Freedom.
Always smiling, a true entrepreneur and a farmer at heart, Ken started the Seed Library in 2004 with a dime and a dream while working as a librarian at the Gardiner Public Library in Gardiner.
Having developed a strong interest in preserving heirloom seed varieties, he decided to add them to the library catalog so that patrons could “check them out,” grow them in their own gardens and then “return” their “saved seed” at the end of the season. A first of its kind in the country endeavor, the program was small but successful. After four years of running the program at the library, Ken and Doug decided to turn the library into a mission-driven, homestead-based small business, which it still is today.
Now they need your “seed money” to expand. Ken is a tireless advocate for seed sovereignty and devoted to the important role art plays in celebrating our agricultural and horticultural heritage. Doug’s business acumen and farming experience make the couple’s mission possible with community support. On their lovely farm, located in the scenic Rondout Valley between the Catskill Mountains and the Shawangunk Ridge, they cultivate three acres for production as well as trial gardens, producing hundreds of pounds of seed annually.
Seeds are living creatures and keeping them viable over the long term requires knowledge and safe handling, adjusting storage, moisture and temperature appropriately, while finding sources for rare and valuable varieties and taking on breeding projects in the traditional methods of plant breeders.
If this isn’t cool enough, the Hudson Valley Seed Library raises the bar even higher with artist designed seed packs they refer to as art packs. Each year, an “open call” is put out to artists to submit their designs by variety. The chosen winners celebrate the diverse stories of seeds and their stewards in an ever-expanding collection you want to collect yourself. Hundreds of varieties with show-stopping names make these art packs easy to gift, sow and send back to savor for the next season.
To learn more or shop Hudson Valley Seed Library, call 845-204-8769, email or visit
Order online or look for the Seed Library square packs at ABC Home, TasteNY or a store near you. Buy often, plant and gift — you will be back for more. And thank Ken and Doug for feeding you too! FarmOn!
To contact Tessa Edick, email tessa@ or follow her on Twitter/IG @FarmOnFarmOn.
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