Seth Green: Home Waters

Seth Green: Home Waters

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This exhibit profiles one of the Genesee Valley’s most famous residents, Seth Green, against a backdrop of modern food systems and their sustainable alternatives. Born in 1817, Green grew up in Rochester and at an early age showed a talent for fishing—so much so that beginning in his twenties he was able to earn a livelihood on the lower Genesee River and eventually open a lucrative fish market on Front Street.  The scale of this latter enterprise, which removed anywhere from a thousand pounds to three tons of fish from nearby lakes and streams on a daily basis, may have imparted an urgency to the experimental spawning techniques for which he became renowned at his fish hatchery along Caledonia Creek.

The emphasis here is to “re-localize” Green, particularly his vision of a sustainably managed network of creeks and rivers that would give people access to healthy local foods—a far cry from today’s globalized fish farms with genetically modified species. He was particularly interested in the role of local farmers, whose “homes are among the lakes and streams, and the lands which they cultivate border on them...[T]hese bodies of water are natural fish farms, capable of producing more food, acre for acre, than the land, besides not requiring the attention and labor necessary to prepare the soil for a future crop.” The essays contained here revisit Green’s unusual synthesis of sport angling, regional food systems, and conservation; they offer a series of related explorations on his life to better understand the prospects for contemporary pisciculture.


Ashley Chamberlain, Amy Chan, Ken Cooper, Alexis Donahue, Jessica Doyen, Kristen Druse, William Foley. Thanks to: Patricia Tice, Thomas Aquinas Daly.