Sharing seeds in Western New York

seed packets
Beautiful illustrations by artists grace the packets of seeds shared by the ARTseeds project of University Heights Arts Association. The illustration of the hibiscus is by Ann Therese Kelly, who has contributed several illustrations. Photo courtesy University Heights Arts Association

by Connie Oswald Stofko

“Many people don’t need all the seeds their garden produces,” said Mary Ouimette-Kinney of the University Heights Art Association. She is co-founder and co-director along with Lawrence Kinney.

There are lots of people who would be happy to use those extra seeds, and there are several local groups that are helping to spread the seeds around.

In this article we’ll talk about one group, the University Heights Arts Association in Buffalo and its ARTseeds program. Then we’ll list other groups that are sharing seeds. If you know of any other groups, please leave information about that group in a comment below.

If you need some help on how to collect seeds, see this page at Global Seed Network.

Why an arts group shares seeds

The University Heights Arts Association has a sculpture garden with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 3107 Main St., Buffalo, in the lot behind the church. And the group has members who garden and who save seeds.

Couple that with their attitude toward art, and you can see how they got into sharing seeds.

“Art is more than art hanging on a wall,” Ouimette-Kinney said.

Gardening itself can be art, and art can be functional. They’ve made and shared hundreds of planters recycled out of old cans, one of many items they have created that are both functional and artistic.

Another functional item is a paint set. They have a recipe for watercolor paints and pour the paints into a palette made from five bottle caps glued together.

The group shares art with people who might not have access to art supplies or lessons. They have created ARTcovz Dispensers®, cabinets containing envelopes with lessons and appropriate supplies for that project that are set in community centers and taken to various events. An envelope might contain a paint set and paper.

Donated art materials are also included; clay is very popular and gets chosen quickly, Ouimette-Kinney said. The group has assembled more than 400 different self-serve art projects.

The ARTcovz Dispensers also contain a shelf for ARTseeds. Each packet is adorned with a beautiful illustration done by local artists.

You can see more about the ARTcovz® Dispensers here.

The group is also planning a cookbook for spring that will include information on gardening, recipes, illustrations and poetry.

How to share seeds with ARTseeds

ARTseeds offers approximately 80 types of seeds, which you can see here.

The group doesn’t put any restrictions on the type of seeds that can be shared; they don’t have to be heirloom seeds or native plants.

Seeds are offered year round (though, of course, you should wait until the appropriate time to plant them).

You can find seeds in their ARTcovz® Dispensers. They also dispense seeds at more than 30 events per year, including the Capen Garden Walk and Northwest Buffalo Tour of Gardens.

They will also mail them to anyone who wishes to receive them. Anyone interested can contact seeds@uhartsgroup.com or 833-6260.

Seed donations can be hand-delivered or mailed to 67 Highgate Ave., Buffalo, NY 14214.

To make other donations, please contact the ARTseeds program of the University Heights Arts Association at seeds@uhartsgroup.com or 833-6260.

Other seed-sharing groups

WNY Seed Library

The WNY Seed Library is housed inside the Audubon Library, 350 John James Audubon Pkwy., Amherst.

The seed library aims to provide heirloom organic vegetables, herbs and flowers. Beans get their own category because the seed library has so many varieties of beans. You can see all the varieties of seeds here.

It’s free to borrow seeds. You don’t need a library card to borrow seeds.

You can drop off seed donations in the box underneath the card catalog where the seeds are kept. Please make sure the seeds are labeled.

See more in this article we published in February and see their Facebook page.

Green Sun Seed Library

The Green Sun Seed Library is a group of gardeners, activists, community gardens and organizations that encourage and support the spread of True Seed using organic and permaculture based approaches.

Their efforts are pointed towards protecting, preserving, organically growing, and breeding non-GMO open pollinated seed to share with the greater Buffalo/WNY bioregion as well as other seed-sharing organizations. They also focus on education and community outreach to create the next generation of great gardeners/farmers.

See their Facebook page.

1000 Sunflower Project

The 1000 Sunflower Project is organized by the Black Rock / Riverside Alliance.

Sunflower seeds are distributed for free. The BRRAlliance encourages community groups and residents to plant them in spaces that can be seen by the community.

The group aims to improve the quality of life in their communities, and sees this as one small way to bring brightness and joy. 

Re-Seed

Re-Seed is a Central New York-based community organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of native plants and their habitats in Central New York and beyond.

This group trades seeds with ARTseeds.

See its Facebook page.

13 Comments on “Sharing seeds in Western New York

  1. Thank YOU for sharing this information — A tiny garden, but always
    enjoy being informed about gardening, new and vintage suggestions!
    Also makes for good conversation!!!!

    Onward and Upward — SHARING AND CARING!!!

  2. Lorraine, Mary Ouimette-Kinney was the one who pulled together the information on all the other groups, so kudos to her! I am happy to share the information. I’m so glad you find it helpful!

  3. Since this article first posted, the ARTseeds program of the UHAA has now partnered with each of two school gardens to provide seeds and offer additional garden art programs. The more seeds that we collect, the more we can disseminate.

  4. Thank you Mary & Larry for the ReSeed shout out!!! Much appreciated, hope to see you soon for another seed exchange ❤️

  5. The book we will be releasing is a book of cooking, poetry, illustrations, photography and titled, “Soil, Seeds and Secrets”. A prospectus will be sent out December 5, 2019.

  6. I took marigolds, zinnia and green beans from ARTseeds. They all bloomed well, and it was free. Early submissions for the book?

  7. The Webster NY public library (Rochester suburb) has a free seed swap cabinet. And small Manila envelopes to put seed you would like to donate

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