• Jennifer Jewell

THE GENEROSITY & MUTUAL CARE OF SEEDS: KEN GREENE OF HUDSON VALLEY SEED COMPANY


FOODSCAPING - with Brie Arthur. Photo courtesy of Brie Arthur, all rights reserved.
 

 


Ken Greene – who goes by K - is a seed person. He is the co-founder of the Hudson Valley Seed Library, which in 2004 became the first public library based seed lending library in the US; in 2008 he went on to co-found with his partner Doug Muller, Hudson Valley Seed Company, a seed and art company focused on heirloom and open pollinated vegetable, flower and herb seed.


As described on the Hudson Valley Seed website: "We are a values-driven seed company that practices and celebrates responsible seed production and stewardship. Our seeds are all open pollinated, non-GMO and mostly organic, with a wide selection of heirloom varieties. We have our own certified organic farm in upstate New York where we produce much of what we sell.


Four Fold Farm—named in honor of the shape of our Art Packs—is the beating heart of the Hudson Valley Seed Company. It allows us to steward amazing heirlooms that have fallen out of circulation, and offer Certified Organic seed for hard-to-find varieties. It also allows us to trial a wild profusion of new varieties each year, selecting the cream of the crop for our new offerings. The farm keeps our staff connected to the mission and to each other. On lovely summer afternoons you can find the office staff eating lunch out on the farm, exploring the catalog brought to life in vivid color. In the dead of winter you’ll find the farm staff keeping warm inside, working to pack seed, fulfill orders, and push us through the busy season. In a very real way, the farm keeps us grounded, in touch with the daily joys and challenges of growing. Being rooted in agriculture helps strengthen our partnerships with amazing, dedicated seed farmers around the country, and helps us better serve you year round."


In the Farm Team Photo in the collage below, some of the great Farm Crew include: Left to right: Farm Manager Steven Crist, Farm Assistant Claire Moodey, Farm Assistant Ted Burt, Farm Assistant Rebecca Flack, and farm Assistant Phil Erner. Trials Manager is Katie!


They describe the inspiration and mission behind their signature ArtPack's this way:

"Our Art Packs unite practical aspirations in the garden with the universal human desire for beauty, meaning, and joy. Each year, we release a call for art seeking artists to interpret the varieties in our collection, and hundreds of artists apply from across the United States. But there’s a lot more to an Art Pack than the beautiful exterior. Open it up, and a whole seedy world unfolds..."


Ever more interested in seed literacy, sovereignty, and cultural seed rematriation, in 2016, K and Shanyn Siegel, a seed work colleague, founded the now-dormant non-profit, Seedshed devoted to sharing and supporting the cultural, agricultural and ecological diversity of seed. K continues this work.


K joins Cultivating Place this week to delve into the long view and deep relationships born of the generosity of seed – and seed people - in our garden lives.


Since we spoke in late 2021, K reported these updates:

  • We are working on moving to a new farm where we can create a seed center.

  • We have our most extensive trial gardens ever and will be offering tours. Folks should sign up for our newsletter if they want to know when the tours will be happening and buy tickets.

  • Garlic, shallots and flower bulbs are shipping in September so folks should order now (before they sell out).

  • Lots of new fine art prints and posters on the website. Plus beautiful indoor/outdoor throw pillows featuring seed pack art.

  • I'm doing seed rematriation work with the Lenape Center and Mohawk community in Akwesasne.

  • Trying to keep spreading joy, hope, and resilience inspired by seeds!

To follow K and Hudson Valley Seed Company online, go to: https://hudsonvalleyseed.com/ and on Instagram at: @hudsonvalleyseedco



IF YOU LIKE THIS PROGAM,

you might also enjoy these Best of CP programs in our archive:


COMING TO FRUITION: PETRA PAGE-MANN of FRUITION SEED

SEEDS FOR THE CALIFORNIA LANDSCAPE, LARNER SEED

THE PALESTINE HEIRLOOM SEED LIBRARY, VIVIEN SANSOUR

SEEDS AND THEIR PEOPLE: TRUELOVE SEED


JOIN US again next week, when we are in conversation with Caitlyn Galloway who is on the planning and visioning team for a restoration project known as the Greenhouse project in the San Francisco area. Listen in!



ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF Hudson Valley Seed Company - all rights reserved.

 

Thinking out loud this week:


In this world of ours it can be so easy to fall into scarcity mindset – fear mongering – bunkering ourselves off from the world and one another because we feel as though for whatever reason of precipitating event we have had it. For me, this is EXACTLY when I need to open, not close. When I need to go into my garden or onto my favorite trails and witness once again the amazing immensity of the world and her many gifts to us. To look to my plants for their lessons – and there are so many. So many. Generosity being among them. This week I decided we could all use a little more generosity and knew K Greene would be an insightful voice to add to our inner and outer turmoil and remind us to think bigger – through the perspective of some of the smallest among us – the seeds.


I love this from K: “Generosity leads to sustenance for the community.”


Take sustenance and perspective and fortitude in this generous conversation with K Greene and seeds. For the work ahead toward a world of support, compassion, and justice, we will all need to plant many healthy, hearty, happy seeds and tend to them as long as we are able.


Last week I mentioned the longer-term project I have been immersed in for the past year, a project you will not see in its holdable tangible form until the fall of 2023, but K Greene and Seed and the heart of this conversation is very much a kernel of that project.


As I listen again to my conversation with K and I reflect on his and the many other seed keeper’s work in our world this is one of the thoughts of his that I am struck by this articulation by K:

“Artists are cultural seed savers - they look at all these different pieces of what helps us understand who we are and why we’re alive and what our hopes are for the future, and they arrange all of those pieces into something visual that tells story in a way that is beyond words, that is emotional and beyond interpretation - but allows for people to integrate and feel into that experience - reminding us that saving seeds is about cultural creation.”


That to my mind is what every one of you as gardeners are as well – you are artists providing life and sustenance to the world around you. You help to create the culture we want to live and grow in together.


Thank you for that. You are artists - you are seeds of the future we want to cultivate.



 

 

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