Hudson Valley Seed Co. is a small company with a big mission. They describe their efforts as “a value-driven seed company that celebrates responsible seed production and stewardship.” In practice, they preserve, catalog, and sell artisanal seeds. These seeds are organic, heirloom and ideal for gardening. They are also all open-pollinated, meaning pollination occurs by insect, bird, wind, human hands or other natural mechanisms and leads to more genetically diverse – and resilient – plants. Their commitment to organic farming, local sourcing and sustainable crop diversity is preserving seed varieties for future generations. Varieties that could, and would likely, become lost to time and modern farming practices.
I happened to stumble on their catalog through their Art Packs initiative, an annual project that prompts artists from around the country to visually tell the story of a particular seed. Each seed is then lovingly rendered as a piece of art, blurring the lines between farming and storytelling.
I thought I knew basil, a familiar herb harmonious to mediterranean cuisine, before I encountered a particular heirloom variety on offer by HVSC. Sacred Basil – or Tulsi (Holy Basil in Sanskrit), has been cultivated in India as a sacred plant in the Hindu tradition for more than 3,000 years. Its flavor profile is minty, closer to Thai basil than Italian, with a subtle fennel zest. It’s an adaptogen for us (great as a tea!) and appetizing to insects – particularly bees and monarch butterflies – who consume its pollen and nectar. It’s basil, yes, but not basil as I knew it. It’s unique. It offers aroma, flavor and nutrition that can’t be found elsewhere. It’s worth preserving. And it’s up to you and me to do so.
To find The Hudson Valley Seed Company: