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The Item: April 2011 

click to enlarge Seed Pack Art by Giselle Potter
  • Seed Pack Art by Giselle Potter
The Art of the Seed
While heirloom seeds have been around forever (though the phrase was coined in the `70s), there’s been a definite resurgence as many gardeners and farmers seek to avoid hybridized and GMO produce. The founders of the Hudson Valley Seed Library, located in Accord, recognize that heirlooms were developed over generations for characteristics that are important to gardeners and eaters such as flavor, beauty, cultural recipes, and regional adaptation. “We understand farming as an art,” says Ken Greene, co-owner. “We wanted to find a way to express to people the idea that these seeds come with stories.” And Art Packs were born.

Featuring artwork designed by New York artists, many from the Hudson Valley, Art Packs ($3.50) unfold in a flower-like fashion, revealing an inner pack of heirloom seeds. Using soy inks and printed on sturdy recycled and FSC-certified paper stock, the packs are frameable and make for an artful gift. The diversity of the artwork (collage, oil painting, embroidery, ceramics, botanical illustration, encaustics, ink, paper cutting, and more) and the more than 150 varieties of seeds available from Hudson Valley Seed Library reflects both the genetic and cultural diversity of the region.

Drop Out, Dig In, Tell All

Those of us transplants who choose to call the Hudson Valley home will undoubtedly understand and enjoy Margaret Roach’s And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road (Grand Central Publishing, 2011). It will serve as an affirmation for those who’ve lived here all of their lives. Roach, garden editor at Martha Stewart Living for 15 years (and the author of one of the best gardening blogs around, a way to garden) decided to drop out of the big-city rat race in 2008, despite the financial and professional rewards of her job. At first she finds her self sorting freezer containers on her living room floor wondering what to do with each day, but through a mix of garden wrangling, learning how to adjust to solitary life without a watch and makeup, and making friends with a semiwild black cat, she rediscovers herself lead a more authentic life by connecting with her garden and nature in the Columbia County hamlet of Copake Falls. Roach will read from her funny, honest, and thoroughly charming memoir on April 9 at the Hammertown Barn in Pine Plains.

Dirty Work
Gardening is dirty work, but cleaning up with astringent, skin-drying toxic chemicals is no way to end any day, especially a day spent in nature. Rosner Soaps, located in artisan community of Sugar Loaf, has a great answer with their handmade pure glycerin and loofah soaps. These soaps the aromatic and curative qualities of pure essential oils such as lavender, orange, eucalyptus, and pomegranate with the wonderfully exfoliating and invigorating attributes of the loofah plant. You get the benefit of a loofah scrub with a natural and powerful soothing lather. The Gardener Set ($16) of three antioxidant soaps—peppermint and tea tree; lemongrass with oatmeal; and seaweed with kelp, bladder wrack, and Irish moss with lemongrass and lavender oils—is a great gift for the green-thumbed one in your life. They also make natural, nontoxic insect repellants. All Rosner products are free of animal fats, additives, and synthetic ingredients, and all herbs and spices are certified organic.

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