Members of the Hudson Valley Seed Library, who have grown from 60 at the start to nearly 700 now, pay a $20 annual fee for 10 seed packs of their choice. The library offers 130 heirloom plant varieties, 50 of which come from locally produced seeds like Hank’s X-tra Special Baking Bean. Mr. Greene has high hopes for replenishing those seed stocks this year. The long, dry summer provided ideal seed-saving weather, he said; last year, partly due to the wet, chilly summer, only 10 percent of members sent back seeds. He should know by the end of November if his hopes have been realized.
The mission of the library, Mr. Greene said, is “to collect New York heirlooms and the cultural stories that came with them.” As with other seed libraries, he also aims to encourage biodiversity, to offer an alternative to the genetically modified seeds produced by large corporations and to make money. (The library is a for-profit venture.)
Mr. Greene, 38, and his companion and business partner, Doug Muller, 31, typically grow about 60 to 70 different plants on the group’s two acres in Accord, N.Y., to keep current stocks strong and to discover new plants. “We are always experimenting and trying to push the envelope of what can be grown in the Northeast,” Mr. Greene said. This year, they grew sesame and cotton, as well as peanuts and amaranth, an ancient grain.
“We love when people give us seed from the farm of some kooky guy they know who lives on rutabagas and cabbage on the Cape,” he continued. For all anyone knows, such largely unknown seeds may yield hardy, productive and tasty plants that will have wide appeal.
How to save a public library: make it a seed bank [NPR podcast]
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