Ok, those of you who know me know that I am not much of a consumer. If I can buy it used, make it myself, or make do with something I’ve already got, I’m pretty good. I hate the frenzy of shopping that accompanies the “Holiday” season, and I think the most awesome thing about being Jewish is that Chanukah is a minor holiday, and generally I’m sitting around with my feet up while everyone else is racing around.
I’m a big fan of homemade gifts – this year most of the grownups in my family got homemade jams and such, and a bunch of meat chickens, raised at home at my house. Now I realize that most of y’all aren’t going to be doing *that* – but most of us could do more homemade than we do.
But realistically, it is now December 7, and long past the time to be preaching “yes, go out and begin carving wooden toys.” That is, if we didn’t start thinking about it before, it is probably too late. And for many of us, last January would have been too late – life is not easy and making stuff takes time. So we are probably going to buy some stuff. Me too – I don’t make any claims to perfect purity.
Then the challenge becomes buying things that are truly good. I don’t mean some high-end commercial designers new “eco” bag or other greenwash bullshit of that sort. I mean really ethical stuff, that gives somebody something they actually need, or that will be beautiful and useful. And finding that stuff is hard – truly. So over the next couple of weeks I’m going to offer up some suggestions for really good presents.
My first suggestion comes from a place that is near to me both physically and to my heart – the Hudson Valley Seed Library. The HVSL is dedicated to collecting and preserving seeds with local ties to New York State and the Northeast, and making them more widely available. These are heirlooms with ties to a particular place, raised with people who are interested in both their past and their future. The Seed Library is also committed to making them available affordably to low income gardeners.
And they support local artists – what’s wonderful is that many of their seed varieties are offered as “Art Packs” which are *gorgeous* seed packages designed by local artists, to support the library’s larger mission.
The above is one of my favorite images, but they are all stunning. They offer gift packs here, with old and new world flavors. And they come in a biodegradable seed starting tray, with chocolate covered seeds. Vegan chocolate. Seriously. How could you not love this gift?
Who would want this? Well, the best estimate is that there were 8 million new vegetables gardeners last year, so the chances are that you know someone out there who is excited about growing food and who needs seeds. If they live in a place where it is dark a lot in the winter, they need the hope that seeds bring with them too.
What if they don’t live out near me? Well, most of these seeds will be good in any temperate climate, but you can also check out local seed companies – if you live in the hot and humid US southeast, try Baker Creek Heirlooms. If you live in a hot, dry, desert climate, the place to go is absolutely Native Seeds/Search , if you live in a coastal/northwest climate, try Salt Spring Seeds in Canada. Or there’s the granddaddy of all heirloom seed catalogs, Seed Savers.
I shouldn’t really be mentioning this, because t-shirts probably don’t fall in the category of truly needed things. But I’m a little bit in love with the HVSL’s “Blight Bites” t-shirt here – anyone who got blight last year will appreciate it! So if you know a new gardener who started last year and ended up with no tomatoes at all, here’s something to go with the seeds for next year!