A Magazine about the Hudson Valley’s local economy, published by Hudson Valley Current.

Signs of Sustainability: Hudson Valley Seed Library

Signs of Sustainability
The Signs of Sustainability Project is a citizen-led initiative created to show gratitude to our friends and neighbors in the Rondout Valley who demonstrate sustainable practices. Sustainability is defined by this project as stewardship and care of the present and future vitality of our wild, agricultural and human resources. 


Hudson Valley Seed Library

Photo by Ilene Cutler.
Ken Greene and Doug Muller started the Hudson Valley Seed Library in 1994 to preserve the genetic diversity of seeds. Although we have not yet reached critical mass in public understanding of the dangers of the loss of regional seeds and the centralized ownership of seed sources, the public is becoming aware of this critical issue of sustainability thanks to the work of seed savers like the Hudson Valley Seed Library. They were awarded a Signs of Sustainability Award in 2013. There are now over 60 seed libraries and many, many seed swaps and community seed banks dedicated to preserving open-pollinated, heirloom seed varieties.
Back when he was a librarian at the Gardiner Library, Ken Greene learned of the threats to seed diversity from a co-worker. He realized he could apply the library concept to seed: starting a project where people checked out seeds, grew them, saved the seeds from the resulting plants and returned them to the library to share again! 
Presently, the Hudson Valley Seed Library has a farm in Accord. At this location, they have fields where they cultivate seeds and facilities where the harvest, pack, and store the seeds for shipping to many customers near and far who want to be part of preserving the tradition of regional varieties. The Seed Library has a full print catalog, a website, a blog, and programming including farm visits and workshops, as well as plans for future action on seed saving. Last year Ken and Doug and their dedicated team packed and shipped over 125,000 seed packs! The Art Packs are particularly popular. Artists submit designs for pack covers and lucky winners have their artwork printed on the front of these vibrant and celebrated packages. 
If you want to participate in a small revolution, forget the perfection of the generic Big Boy Tomato, buy some seeds from The Hudson Valley Seed Library, plant them, save the seeds from the best specimens, and return them to Ken and Doug with a little description of the results. Here’s a description of The Stone Ridge Tomato, published in their seed catalog as it was written by a customer last year: “Mine have a rich, bulbous, deeply creased, full bodied sensuosity. May her sexy hips live long and flourish.” Learn how to save seeds and share yours with friends. And finally, catch Open Sesame- The Story of Seeds, a documentary film that features The Hudson Valley Seed Library and the global movement for seed independence.

–Lisa Jones