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Edible: Seed Library Takes Root At Manhattan Art Exhibit

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Special seeds that are fit for New York soil now have their own art exhibit. Rachel Wharton of Edible Manhattan magazine filed the following report.

At the Horticultural Society of New York, seeds aren't in soil, but on the wall.

Each year, the Hudson Valley Seed Library commissions New York artists to design the packaging for a special series of fruit, vegetable and flower seeds. Until March 2, those packets are now on display here in Midtown, along with the original artwork behind them.

"Instead of choosing to photograph them or have real representations of them, they have local regional artists do them so that they have character, and they represent the diversity of the seeds themselves," says Horticultural Society of New York Exhibitions Curator Chris Murtha.

The collection of 23 includes a pack of tomato seeds named by a Russian cosmonaut who retired upstate, illustrated by graphic novelist Will Sweeney. Painter Ryan Cronin decorated a pack of chili pepper seeds with the explosion of a lit match. And then there's a radish called Sparkler, which artist Melissa Mandel turned into a cuddly stuffed creature complete with a gold tooth.

"I particularly like edible Amaranth, it's a dyed and painted fabric that also has embroidery on it, that's pretty unique," says Murtha. "This year we also have a lot of sculptures, which is nice. There's an apron, for heart seed and there's a sculpture representation of red acre cabbage."

Like the art, these seeds are also special. They've been collected by New York gardeners for generations and are guaranteed to do well in our climate. Right now, you can buy the complete 2012 collection at the Horticultural Society, which has gardening classes and a library in addition to art.

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