Cultivating creativity

Launched four years ago by Ken Greene and Doug Muller, who farm by hand a two-acre spread in Accord, the Hudson Valley Seed Library sells 62 varieties of mostly heirloom seeds. The package itself is part of the appeal: Each year, the Library commissions artists to design packs for that year’s varieties. The results have been delightful, bringing back a modicum of whimsical imagination to the marketing of an agricultural product, as you can see for yourself at the “Art of the Heirloom Exhibition” opening. Located at the Friends of Historic Kingston (FHK) museum, at the corner of Wall and Main, it will showcase this year’s special limited edition of artist-designed seed packs this Saturday, November 5 from 4 to 8 p.m.

The designs of 23 artists will be on display – an increase over last year’s show of 16, reflecting the huge number of submissions that the Seed Library received: 140 in all, most from artists in the Hudson Valley and New York City area. Greene initially selected 40 artists, who then each submitted a proposal based on a variety of vegetable, flower or herb that he assigned them; the 23 finalists were selected from that group.

The specially designed seed packs will be for sale at the exhibition at $3.75 each, as well as fine-art prints of the original artwork, ranging in price from $65 to $95. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the South Pine Street City Farm, a program of the Queens Galley in partnership with the Kingston Land Trust and Binnewater Ice Company, located in Midtown Kingston, and the FHK, in thanks for the free space. If you miss the opening, you can catch the artwork in December at the Storefront Gallery, located at 93 Broadway, where it will be on display for the month.

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Greene said that this year, relatively small quantities of seed packets will be available in some cases, due to damage from this year’s storms. “We did lose a good percentage of our crops from rain, though we feel lucky compared to friends on other farms who lost everything,” he said. Nonetheless, “We still produced more seed this year than last year, because we expanded our growing area.” The Seed Library sells seed packets directly to the public – its holiday catalogue will be out this month – as well as $25 annual memberships, which entitle you to ten seed packs of your choice.

Greene will provide a tour of the artwork and explain more about the Library’s artisanal seed farm at the FHK opening. Seed Library members are welcome to bring their saved seeds to the event – which gives them a credit off the membership fee – and anyone who brings seeds to swap can enter a drawing for a free membership. Gift memberships, gift baskets and archival reprints of historic images will also be for sale, along with the fine-art prints. Visit seedlibrary.org for more information and a list of other upcoming events.

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