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by Slow Food USA intern Laura Kate Morris

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need” – Cicero

Perhaps you’ve grown your own vegetables in a community garden, infusing them with the terroir of your soil, eating them at your kitchen table. But that is only part of the circle – what about the seeds? Nearly all seeds available today have been shipped from states (if not countries) away, and at the end of the season are lost back to the soil. What if, in the spirit of sustainability, we closed that circle of seed, plant, table… and back to seed?

The Hudson Valley Seed Library in Accord, NY, is trying to do just that. It brings together rare and regional open-pollinated seeds, a sustainable business model, local artists, the conservation of traditional skills, and … your local library? I spoke with the founder of HVSL for further insight into how anyone could possibly fit so many ideas into a tiny packet of seeds.

Co-created by Ken Greene and Doug Muller to support their homesteading habit, the company is committed to staying small and growing food without fossil fuels. Choosing to raise their seeds by hand, HVSL shies away from a bigger size that would require specialized seed-cleaning equipment, tractors, and machinery. They look toward a sustainable, community-focused model and away from the nationalized corporation. (To start finding out more about the corporate seed world, check out this post on Civil Eats.) The Seed Library operates in part like your local library, substituting seeds for books. You can become a member, “check out” the items of your choice, enjoy and learn from them (in this case, grow them and save them), and return them at the end of the season.