Monday, July 16, 2012

Hudson Valley Seed Library Broadcast from July 16

Ken Greene and Doug Muller from the Hudson Valley Seed Library discuss how their library operates, challenges that seed libraries face, and reasons why this work is so important to the livelihood of us all.
Ken Greene takes visitors on a tour of the Hudson Valley Seed Library farm.
Ken Greene and Doug Muller of the Hudson Valley Seed Library partnered up to host a Seed Broadcast event with local Accord folks. It was a great opportunity for visitors to check out the seed production gardens, learn about seed saving, and discuss critical issues surrounding seed biodiversity and the cultural importance of this practice.
Ken shows neighbors the original design for a new art pack.
The Hudson Valley Seed Library functions as a seed library in several ways. People can purchase a membership, receive a yearly supply of seeds and return saved seeds at the end of the year for reduced membership fees the next year. Or folks can buy regionally adapted seeds directly from the small scale farm, which come in thoughtfully articulated "art packs." The art packs are collaborative ventures, executed by artists, and encouraged by the compassionate, and intimate relationship that Ken and Doug have to the seeds they grow.
Hudson Valley Seed Library Art packs along with an inspiring collection of old seed catalogs filled with the forgotten history of seeds, plants, and food.
Both Doug and Ken have questions about how they will keep this local, small scale venture running and they also wonder how people adopting the strategy of seed libraries will encourage them to prosper in their communities. They cite something we have heard repeatedly from other seed sharing projects across the country.... It is relatively easy to get people to participate in the seed libraries, by taking seeds home to be planted. But when it comes to saving seeds and returning these to the library, very few people actually participate. It seems that most people do not know how to save seeds and they are afraid to try in the face of a community commitment to seed sharing. Ken and Doug ask, how do popular expectations of producing glossy, perfect vegetables and gardens keep people from formulating their own seed stories out of the not-so-perfect home garden that is squeezed amidst the domestic everyday obligations of so many busy people. Ken shared his blog writing on this exact topic titled, Garden Porn...."Every year when the new seed catalogs come out, someone invariably refers to their pile of glossy catalogs as “garden porn”."

Doug questions the evolutionary impact of industrial seed production practices, which typically occur in warm, arid climates, for the purpose of production efficiency. He asks, how does this influence the way that seeds and plants are capable of surviving and adapting in humid, cold climates such as the northeast? How do we promote regionally adapted, place specific, viability in the seeds, plants, and foods we grow?
Listen to the above audio feed, to hear more on these thoughts and questions.

You can meet up with Ken and Doug at the Seed Savers Exchange annual conference on July 20-22, in Decorah, Iowa, where Ken will be giving a talk titled, "The Art of Heirlooms."  They will also be attending the National Heirloom Expo in September, in Santa Rosa, California, where they have found an excellent community to discuss seed saving, seed libraries, and forums for best practices.

Thank you Doug and Ken for sharing all your thoughts about seeds, community, and the future of seed. And thank you for all your generosity!

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