Hudson Valley Seed Library: Local Seeds, Local HistoryHudson Woods | May 1, 2015
Have you ever thought of seeds the way you think about books? About 10 years ago, Ken Greene made such a metaphorical leap, and started the country’s first seed lending system out of the Gardiner library, a stone’s throw from Hudson Woods. Then a master’s student and part-timer there, he saw “a lot of similarities between seeds and books. Seeds are stories that we’re passing on, they’re not just a commodity. They have cultural stories, they have genetic stories. I thought, why don’t I take these seed stories and put them in the library so that people could check out a seed the same way that they check out a book. And that would create more access and make sure that these stories stay alive.”
Four years into the project, he says “I wanted to be growing more seeds for the library, more variety, and higher quantity than what was coming back from members. So my garden had turned into a seed garden, and just kept getting bigger and bigger, and I started spending more time growing and less time at work at the library. At which point I said, obviously I need to quit my job.” He and his partner Doug Muller both did just that and “jumped right in not knowing if it was going to work out financially or not.” The operation moved to a small farm property and former Ukrainian Catskill camp in Accord that is co-owned by a group of friends.
Now, six years after that leap, The Hudson Valley Seed Library comprises three acres of seed cultivation, several trial gardens for traditional method breeding experiments, a robust online catalog business that offers over 400 varieties of vegetable, flower or herb seeds, all staffed by ten full and part-time staff and dozens of volunteers. A mission driven business, they use only organic growing methods, and are especially committed to preserving local varieties or “natives – what grows well here in our community and actually contributes to the ecosystem.”
All photos courtesy of seedlibrary.org