The Seed Library grew out of a germ of an idea at a small town library in the Hudson Valley region of upstate New York. Over the past nine years, the idea has grown and blossomed into an online seed library focused on the Northeast and a full seed catalog for all gardeners. Today, the Seed Library has its own seed farm where open-pollinated seeds are grown, saved, and packed by hand. There are close to one thousand seed library members and thousands more buy our unique Art Packs and heirloom seeds every year. Seed Library gardeners can feel good about thier seeds because we care as much as you do about preserving genetic diversity and saving seed stories.
We only offer heirloom and open-pollinated seeds- no hybrids and nothing genetically engineered. We’ve signed the Safe Seed Pledge & adhere to Vandana Shiva's Declaration of Seed Freedom. We take these commitments even further by researching the origins of all of the seeds we don’t grow ourselves to make sure that those sources are not related to, owned by, or affiliated with biotech or pharmaceutical corporations. We do the research so you can feel good about your seeds. At the same time as more and more seed sources are gobbled up by these multi-national corporations, we’re busy collecting, preserving, growing, offering, and celebrating seeds in all their diversity. Thanks to gardeners like you, every year we’ve been able to expand our catalog of independent seeds. Thank you!
We started the Seed Library in 2004 as a way of keeping seeds out of the pockets of greedy corporations and in the dirty hands of caring gardeners. The story of the Seed Library has continued to evolve over time.
Today, the Hudson Valley Seed Library strives to do three things:
- to create an accessible and independent source of regionally-adapted seeds that is maintained by a community of caring farmers and gardeners.
- to create gift-quality seed packs featuring original works designed by artists in order to celebrate the beauty and diversity of American heirloom gardening.
- to help farmers, gardeners, and eaters understand where seeds come from, how they are grown, who grows them, and why seed saving is more important than ever.
In addition to a full heirloom seed catalog, we are continuing our unique membership program which provides a way for backyard gardeners and small farmers to make a vital contribution to preserving the genetic and cultural diversity of our region. This year we are launching an all new program called Community Seeds: One Seed, Many Gardens that will help turn more gardeners into seed savers and provide free seeds to those in need. Click here to join in!
Our full heirloom seed catalog has also grown every year. The 200+ seed varieties in our online catalog are for all gardeners and farmers who are interested in preserving diversity and want to feel good about what their seed dollars are supporting. 80 of these varieties come in our Art Packs and the rest are packaged in simple seed packs. No matter which pack you choose, they are still the same great seeds. For folks who want to sow local, all regionally grown seeds are clearly marked online and on their envelopes.
Who are the people behind the Seed Library? It all started in 2004 with Ken Greene adding a few seeds to the book catalog at the Gardiner Library where he was working as the children's librarian. In 2008, Ken's partner Doug Muller joined in and the two turned the side project into their full time passion. Since then, the Seed Library has grown to include friends, neighbors, and seasonally out of work local farmers. Today the Seed Squad includes
Erin Enouen, former CSA farmer now in charge of sales, retail accounts, and the demonstration garden.
Brian Nelson, who runs our mini-warehouse and makes sure your orders get out to you.
Stu Dorris, who is our main farmer, handy man, and seed packer.
Michael Asbill, our resident artist who now manages our art collections, fine art prints, and the Art of the Heirloom exhibition.
Amoreen, Wes, Jes, Nora, Tusha, and Robin, who keep busy hand packing, folding, and stickering our seeds.
Thanks for helping to grow a truly green local business!
The following articles tell stories about the Seed Library over the last few years: New York Times, Huffington Post, Civil Eats, A Way to Garden, Horticulture Magazine, Hobby Farm, Seed Saver's Exchange
On our seed farm we nurture plants through their entire life cycle from seed to seed.
As a mission-based business, we make decisions based on what we think is right. There are very few seed companies growing their own seed, and even fewer in the Northeast. Although growing seeds by hand is more labor intensive, costs more, and is usually done using industrial practices on a massive scale, our little seed farm is the heart of our business. We also support important community garden efforts like school gardens, donate seeds to gardeners, farmers, and organizations in need, and use traditional seed growing, saving, cleaning, and packing techniques on our farm. Keep an eye out in our Seeder’s Digest e-newsletter for info on farm tours and hands-on farm workshops. We’d love to show you around! We also post farm photos regularly on our Facebook page.
In our eyes, artists are cultural seed savers, selecting which kernels of beauty, color, and form to keep alive and pass on to future generations. Inspired by pre-photography antique seed catalogs, every year we commission contemporary artists to interpret a distinctive selection of the heirloom varieties in our seed catalog. Artists range from the undiscovered to the up-and-coming to the world-renowned. Mediums include oil painting, paper, collage, encaustic, colored pencil, printmaking, ceramics, sculpture, embroidery and more. Each work of art becomes a unique seed pack. The artwork celebrates the beauty, diversity, and cultural importance of the heirloom seeds held within each pack. The original works form a travelling exhibit called Art of the Heirloom. The packs themselves become affordable works of art. Plant the seeds, frame the art! Additionally, we offer a limited edition selection of fine art prints of the original works of art. To learn more about each artist, click on their name in the variety description to visit their website. If you would like to apply to be a pack artist, sign up for our Seeder’s Digest email and you’ll receive calls for art when they come out.