Garden Lifestyle

Check Out This Library

The Hudson Valley Seed Library is a small, independent seed company that offers nearly 200 varieties of regionally-adapted vegetable, herb and flower seeds.

With every packet of Art Pack seeds, gardeners get a miniature work of art.
Photo/Illustration: Hudson Valley Seed Library

One of the seed companies that made a big impression on me at the National Heirloom Expo in September was the Hudson Valley Seed Library. I visited many other seed company booths during the Expo, but it was a large display of seed packets featuring colorful artwork that caught my eye.

It turns out the Art Packs aren’t the only thing different about this seed company.

“I think what makes the Seed Library unique from other seed companies is that we have the Seed Library Program,” said Ken Greene, company co-founder. “Our catalog grew out of the desire to save local seed and to create a way to share seeds with each other.”

The Hudson Valley Seed Library is committed to growing all of its seed in the same climate where the company is located. That would be Hardiness Zone 5b in upstate New York near the Catskills.

Hudson Valley Seed Library

Hudson Valley Seed Library

Gardeners who struggle with growing in short-season climates will appreciate being able to find a good assortment of vegetables that mature in a short amount of time. Of course, anyone who gardens in a zone with longer seasons can also grow these seeds.

“Most people look at a catalog and all the delicious varieties and choose the watermelon that sounds best, but the season may not be long enough,” Ken said. “We grow in a short season that’s book ended with cold weather so our seeds perform great in four-season areas.”

The company sells only heirloom, open-pollinated seeds. About 60 varieties are grown on the Seed Library’s two-acre farm, using traditional seed saving and seed cleaning processes.

“It’s a labor-intensive process, but it goes with our mission of saving the culture of seed saving and the techniques of growing on a small farm without equipment that uses fossil fuels,” Ken said.

The company grew out of a smaller seed library effort that Ken started at a public library eight years ago. Four years ago he and his business partner, Doug Muller, decided to quit their jobs and work full-time to turn the Seed Library into a business.

Three Seed Pack Options

The Hudson Valley Seed Library has three different types of seed packets, Art Packs, Library Packs and Garden Packs.

Art Packs

Art Packs are the attractive seed packets that feature artwork from different artists in the greater New York region. Art Packs hold vegetable, flower and herb varieties and are available for purchase from the company’s online catalog.

Look for unusual varieties like ‘Aunt Molly’s’ ground cherry, ‘Long Island Cheese’ pumpkin, ‘Sugar Baby’ watermelons, and Ken’s all-time favorite tomato called ‘Goldie’.

Gardeners can sign up for the email list to be the first to know when the new catalog is online in January.

Library Packs

Library Packs contain seed grown by member farmers and gardeners. Members pay an annual membership fee ($25) and get a membership kit with seed-saving envelopes and a choice of any 10 varieties from the catalog. Membership is limited to gardeners who grow in Zone 5 or colder.

Saving seed to return to the library is optional, but serves as an incentive. Members who “check out” seeds, grow them, and return the seeds to the library get a credit toward their next year’s membership fee.

Garden Packs

Garden Packs are filled with seed purchased from wholesale seed suppliers. “We are careful about where our seeds come from,” Ken said. “We won’t buy from companies operated by corporate biotech interests. We know where our seed comes from.”

 More catalog reviews…

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