Hudson Valley Seed Library Fall Workshops

As the bounty of the season rolls in, gardeners’ thoughts transform. Worry over the fate of tender seedlings and the year’s insect pressures is replaced by gratitude as the sweet tomatoes and peppers of late summer fill the harvest basket, as the crunchy cabbages and succulent broccoli of fall take your garden eating into winter. The hard work has paid off, and a season of quiet repose beckons. But, wise gardeners, rest not on your laurels! There remains one simple, but crucial, garden task to get done–one that takes just a trickle of your thought all season and a few minutes of work in the fall. That task is saving seeds for next season’s crops, and it’s a fun and easy way to deepen your connection to your garden.

It does take some specialized knowledge, and that’s where the Hudson Valley Seed Library (HVSL) comes in. The brainchild of Ken Greene, the HVSL began as a side project within the Gardiner Library, where Greene worked for several years. It has since morphed into a small business, the mission of which is to create a small scale, locally-based seed production company. Its seeds are all open-pollinated varieties, and most of them have a local connection: they’ve either been grown out from seeds saved by local farmers and gardeners or they’re heirlooms with a New York connection.

The HVSL offers educational workshops throughout the region each year. In the coming months, Greene will be leading three sessions. On August 16th, he offers the “Seeds and Salsa” workshop, which, according to Greene, demonstrates that “seed-saving and good eating go hand in hand.” Participants learn how to save seed from heirloom tomatoes, herbs, and peppers while making 100% local salsa. Take home as much salsa as the group can make. The workshop is $10 per person and $8 for members at the Poughkeepsie Farm Project from 1:30 to 3:30pm. On September 16th, Greene will present “Saving Seeds and Their Stories,” a free evening talk for the Ulster Garden Club open to the public. Slides and talk will cover New York heirlooms and basic seed-saving skills. This talk takes place at the Esopus Library at 1:30pm. The final workshop of the season takes place on October 25th, when Greene invites members and interested gardeners to his fledgling farm in Accord for a “Seed Meet and Greet.” This “end-of-season seedy celebration” includes a tour of Seed Library land, a seed swap, “seedy discussions,” 2009 memberships available for purchase, and a chance to meet the Hudson Valley seed-saving community. Free for members, $5 otherwise (but participants can purchase 2009 memberships on the spot). This event takes place from 2 to 5pm.

Can’t make it to one of the workshops? Become a member for an annual fee of $15. Membership in the Hudson Valley Seed Library provides “borrowing privileges” to a set of seeds maintained by the HVSL (hence the name). Take seeds at the start of the season, sow them, harvest the crop, and save some seeds to return to the library in the fall. Each vegetable has its own seed collection protocol, and Greene ultimately aims to provide detailed information on these practices on his website. Greene expects to produce a full catalog of seeds for sale and for borrowing by 2010.

To learn more about the Hudson Valley Seed Library, check out its website at Use the contact form on the website to register for any of the workshops mentioned above.