O K, SO I FALTERED; I BOUGHT MORE SEEDS. I am weak, but with a good excuse: The new-to-me Hudson Valley Seed Library had a display at the event I spoke at last weekend, and they have the most charming seed packets I have ever seen. So that’s my explanation: The artwork made me do it. Well, and so did the fact that they sold some things I haven’t grown in years that got me all sentimental. The damage report: Three packets, and a reminder to save my own seeds.
Hudson Valley Seed Library’s motto is “Heirloom Seeds With Local Roots,” and they specialize in heirloom seed “rooted in the history and soils of the Northeast.” The co-founders’ goal for their first-year business is to grow all their seed locally by 2014, much of it on their land in Accord, NY. Ken Greene and Doug Muller want to rekindle the knowledge and spirit of seed-saving at a local level, “to close the loop from seed to seed that is necessary for a truly local sustainable local food system,” they say.
I think it’s a great reminder for all of us, wherever we live, especially right now: We can save some of our seeds from year to year, and also share it. Fostering this kind of consciousness and engagement is what the Seed Library is excited about.
Anyone anywhere can order from their web-based catalog, and there’s a way to get more involved: Join the Seed Library, for $20 a year, which includes 10 packs of seeds (plain wrappers, not the fancy ones above), and also the chance to save and return seed for a credit toward next year’s membership. Sort of a cooperative based on a give-back-a-pack, get-back-a-pack arrangement; more details on their site. (And at this writing, there’s a Mother’s Day sale on, as if the price of membership wasn’t sweet enough already.)
Of course, I was taken that some of the seed even have local provenances, like ‘New Yorker’ tomato and ‘Catskill’ Brussels sprouts, and ‘Black Valentine’ bush bean, a New York State heirloom. (They’d all work just as well in gardens elsewhere.)
To complete the locally crafted seed story of The Hudson Valley Seed Library, Ken and Doug invited area artists to each design those lovely packets. Each “art pack,” $3.50, or the whole series of 13 at $37.50, would make a great gift for any gardener, as would a Seed Library membership.
Since I had already confessed my “entire” seed order months ago, before I met Hudson Valley Seed Library, consider this my addendum, a P.S. to the previous confessional. Last weekend I also bought:
- ‘Black Valentine’ bush bean: A New York State heirloom whose crispy green pods hold up well to freezing, and whose dried black seeds (lest one forget to pick frequently enough) are good eating, too, cooked up as soup or refrieds.
- ‘Dinosaur,’ or ‘Lacinato’ kale (Ken and Doug call it simply Dino, and they call their dog—whose favorite snack food this is—Kale). It’s not frilly like most kales, but linear-leaved, very dark green and super-frost hardy.
- ‘Rat’s Tail Podding Radish’ (Raphanus caudatus), is an oddball aerial radish (as opposed to the more typical root type). A bushy plant covered with lavender-purple flowers, followed by pods that seem to jut up from the branches. Used for pickling or fresh eating, to add zest to salads or cooked in stir-fries.
Did you really expect me to resist that illustration of that big fat rat eyeing the radish plant?