Dec 9, 2010

Save A Seed,
Save The World

ART by Lisa Perrin

I started to write a blog about the Hudson Valley Seed Library, specifically the art pack project which features seed packets designed by New York artists, in order to celebrate heirloom gardening.  On the surface, it seemed pretty straightforward.  A group of pretty pictures and some copy.

ART by Jenny Lee Fowler

 I usually like to do a little research, even for a blog that seems like fluff.  It turns out SEEDS are a political issue. 

"Traditional varieties of vegetables and grains are a vital heritage:  they could be the key to our food security in the future.  But, where hundreds of varieties of a crop were once grown, now there may be only two or three, or the crop itself may have been abandoned. "  Journey to Forever
ART by Barbara Bash
"One of the world's most pervasive threats to world food and livelihood security is the loss of biological diversity."  GRAIN

Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership is the largest ex situ plant conservation project in the world.  
"Our focus is on global plant life faced with the threat of extinction and plants of most use for the future. The seeds we save are conserved outside their native habitat.  Working with out network of partners across 50 countries, we have successfully banked 10% of the world's wild plant species. With your help, we are going to save 25% by 2020.  We target plants and regions most at risk from climate change and the ever-increasing impact of human activities."

You can visit Kew's Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place in Sussex and see the seed bank in action.  I did and it's worth the trip.

ART by Giselle Potter

On Thursday night The Horticultural Society of New York hosted a preview party of the original art from the Hudson Valley Seed Library 2011 Art Packs.  Besides food from Katchkie Farm and drinks from Hudson Real American Whiskeys,  Ken Greene, co-founder of Hudson Valley Seed Library led an informal guided tour of the artwork.  

Working in a library in upstate New York, Ken got the idea for the seed library.  As he said  "My addiction to ebay led me to start purchasing original seed packages and seed catalogs from New York State. "  Inspired by the artwork on these vintage seed packs, Ken decided to re-invent the seed package by hiring contemporary artists to create covers for the packets, putting their original spin on a tomato, cucumber or kale.  This year, Ken wrote copy for the interior of the packages.  "I realized that vintage seed catalogs were less interested in telling you what great tomatoes you could grow; instead the writing concentrated on the history of the variety or what would be enjoyable about growing this particular vegetable and that is what I tried to do."

An example of the copy inside PROVIDER GREEN BEAN:
"Although many garden varieties are humorously or hyperbolically named, this bean's moniker is apt and to the point.  Provider beans deliver early, steady, long-lasting yields of prolific and nutritious green beans.  The seeds will germinate in cool soils, and the plants stand strong through many common bean diseases.  Provider will produce a bounty:  eat them fresh, make dilly beans, freeze a bunch, and share your harvest with friends." 

This holiday season you can become a "seed guardian"  and supporter of the arts.   The egg may be nature's  perfect package, but it's hard to think of another packet  that bears "fruit" both inside and out.
Wildflower Seed Packs from Randall's Island.  
We harvest seed every year from our wildflower meadows 
and put together seed packs made from the ends of bamboo
to give to our volunteers as a thank you for working in the garden.

If you are in New York City, 
visit The Horticultural Society of New York on West 37 Street 
to see the original seed packs for 2011 on view until December 23.
You can also purchase original prints of the artwork from this years seed packs.


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