Seeds for the People: Hudson Valley Seed Library

I just ordered my 2012 flower and veg seeds from the Hudson Valley Seed Library, founded by the charming and über-talented duo that is partners Ken Greene and Doug Muller. You don’t have to live in the Hudson Valley to order from them. They serve all of New York and those parts of neighboring states with similar climes. And even if you live in a radically different climate, you will surely find the Seed Library concept intriguing nonetheless; maybe you could start a mini seed library where you live.

The winsome, visionary founders of the Hudson Valley Seed Library (Ken left, Doug right). Photo by Larry Decker

The Hudson Valley Seed Library strives to do two things:

  1. to create an accessible and affordable source of regionally-adapted seeds that is maintained by a community of caring farmers and gardeners; and,
  2. to create gift-quality seed packs featuring works designed by New York artists in order to celebrate the beauty of heirloom gardening.

Growing seeds takes patience. Photo by Larry Decker

The Seed Library was born when Greene was working for the Gardiner, NY library while finishing grad school. In 2004, he decided to add seeds to the circulating collection and found the library patrons game to participate. Inspired by stories, Greene felt that a seed library would not only create a source of locally adapted seed, it would help preserve the culture and stories around those heirlooms.

A volunteer saves seed from Green Zebra tomatoes. Photo by Larry Decker

In spring of 2008, Greene and Muller started their full-time HVSL venture in Accord, NY, where they homestead on 27 acres shared with several friends. The land is the site of a former Ukrainian summer camp and has many funky remnant buildings from that time, many still labeled with Cyrillic letters. The Seed Library’s actual seed library is housed out of the building that used to be the camp’s snack bar.

Bulk seed in the Seed Library. Photo by Larry Decker

There are currently about 1000 members of the Seed Library. Member gardeners buy seed from the HVSL but also, in many cases, send their seed back to the Library, for which they get seed-buying credit. Members aren’t obligated to send seed back, however. Fifteen local farmers also supply the Library with seed. There is a full online catalog at where anyone—member or not—can purchase seeds. This includes Art Packs that are created with work done by Hudson Valley artists. “This is a way for us to say that arts are a part of everything,” Ken Greene says, “and to find our own way of supporting artists and including them in what we’re doing so other people can see some of the ways in which art is import ant in terms of culture.”

Seed Library Art Packs make fantastic gifts. Photo Courtesy HVSL

I love this project so wholeheartedly and only wished I lived closer to Accord so I could volunteer on the  HVSL farm and have an excuse to hang out some with Ken and Doug.

3 Responses to “Seeds for the People: Hudson Valley Seed Library”
  1. vintagejenta says:

    I really want to try their burpless cucumber. I love English cucumbers (as they’re also called), but am not such a big fan of the fact that they’re generally imported from Mexico. They’re less bitter and silkier than regular cukes and are, of course, seedless. They are absolutely perfect for cucumber salads or for eating with a little ranch dip or in as a salad with sour cream and dill.

    Of course, this means protecting them from woodchucks. *sigh* We’ll see.

  2. idiadega says:

    Oh this is wonderful! I love the story and the pictures. Love it. Can I buy and plant them in Malaysia?

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