Hudson Valley Seed Library Grows at the Farm Hub
From time to time during the growing season, Ken Greene and colleagues from the Hudson Valley Seed Library could be seen walking through Farm Hub fields off Hurley Mountain Road, checking on rows of meticulously planted squash and broccoli. What was the “Seed Squad” doing at the Farm Hub?
Because certain vegetables can easily cross-pollinate with other varieties of the same species, conducting projects that involve reproducing reliable seed can be challenging. Fortunately, this year the Farm Hub was able to provide the Seed Library with space for a satellite growing station where, with no similar species growing nearby, the likelihood of interbreeding would be significantly lessened.
This was particularly important for the broccoli variety planted this year. Building on a participatory breeding project initiated by the Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC), the Seed Library planted 1,000 plants of an open pollinated broccoli variety specifically developed for organic farmers. Open pollinated seeds have more genetic diversity, which allows them to adapt to local conditions over time. This gives them a number of advantages over hybrid seeds, which cannot be saved from year to year. An open pollinated broccoli variety would allow broccoli growers to direct sow, avoid expensive greenhouse transplanting, cut costs by saving seeds, and adapt varieties to local conditions.
In the case of the squash, the seed will turn into a Thanksgiving feast for the Open Hands soup kitchen in Kingston and the Bread and Life soup kitchen in Brooklyn. “Squash ripens at the same time as the seed, which is not the case for most vegetables,” Ken Greene, founder of the Hudson Valley Seed Library told us. This year that means that after the seeds have been scooped out, the rest of the 1,000 squash brought in from the fields will be donated to soup kitchens to be used for Thanksgiving dinner.
It is a fitting finale to a successful partnership this season, bringing seeds to farmers and gardeners and, at the same time, supporting local communities.