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Joseph Lofthouse's "Landrace Gardening: 2014 Progress Report" in Mother Earth News

 
Ann Torrence
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Joseph Lofthouse is a market gardener working in my climate so I'm very interested in the seeds he's developing. I found his end of year progress report in Mother Earth News to be inspirational in how many different landraces he is working on at one time, and some of the data he reports. For example, he planted a few hundred hazelnuts seeds and about a dozen survived without weeding. Yay for more genetic diversity and an example of simple things we can be doing in our own gardens to grow what works in our situations.
 
leila hamaya
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i have also been admiring his work.
the first i head of him was from some articles he wrote about breeding garlic that will produce true seeds, and i checked out everything he had been writing about that i could find.

i have been growing the purple stripe garlics anyway, the ones that he says are most likely to set seed...so i have also tried to see if i can get seed following his information.. no joy yet but i will keep at it =)

anywho i also enjoy his writing and ideas....
 
Miles Flansburg
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Interesting stuff.

http://garden.lofthouse.com/

Ann, I am going to add his name to the title so it will be easier to search for in later years.
 
leila hamaya
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Miles Flansburg wrote:Interesting stuff.

http://garden.lofthouse.com/



heres some more:

adaptivar landrace

food security through biodiversity

fruit and nut trees from seed
 
Bill Bradbury
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We are very lucky here in our little mountain valley to have many people like Joseph, who have dedicated their lives to restoring the old ways and localized plant and animal diversity. I've been growing Joseph's wonderful garlic strains for at least a decade now, big as your fist and super tasty!
Joseph has some great ideas about how to adapt plants to our unique environment(hot and dry in summer and cold and snowy in winter with short growing season since the mountains surround us).
Next time I see Joseph, I will tell him about this website and the appreciative folks here on Permies!
 
Ann Torrence
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Bill, I would love to get some of his garlic going over here. And cantaloupes. Maybe he'll be interested in trading for some scion wood this winter. Please do tell him his fan club spreads all the way to New Zealand.
 
Matt Tebbit
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I just read the first article he posted on Mother Earth News and it mentions he grows potatoes from seed. My grandfather talked to me about this once and said that there was a risk that new varieties of potatoes could originate and then there is the danger that the tubers could be poisonous, is this a risk at all?

How easy is it to get potatoes germinating from seed? I'd imagine they'd be pretty easy, like a tomato as they're related. We have a dearth of potatoes here so it'd be an interesting experiment.
 
Roger Taylor
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Matt Tebbit wrote:I just read the first article he posted on Mother Earth News and it mentions he grows potatoes from seed. My grandfather talked to me about this once and said that there was a risk that new varieties of potatoes could originate and then there is the danger that the tubers could be poisonous, is this a risk at all?

How easy is it to get potatoes germinating from seed? I'd imagine they'd be pretty easy, like a tomato as they're related. We have a dearth of potatoes here so it'd be an interesting experiment.

Same as anything else, it depends on the quality of your seed. I got a 90% strike rate on mine. But I hear you need to grow them a year, then replant what you grow a second year, to get normal sized potatoes. This will be the first year I grow them, so will see.
 
Dan Boone
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Bill Bradbury wrote:Next time I see Joseph, I will tell him about this website and the appreciative folks here on Permies!


Please do! I garden under difficult conditions and his articles for Mother Earth News have inspired me to start saving seed from the marginal successes with hope of someday perfecting strains that yield in these conditions. It would be awesome to see him on this site -- although he sounds like one of those hard-working farmers who may prioritize his computer time pretty low compared to everything else he is doing.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Thanks for the feedback. There is so much going on at the farmer's market that I often don't have time to chat about how my seeds are doing for people. Winter is a good time for more relaxed chatting because while I am working on cleaning and testing seeds every day, there isn't a tight deadline attached. The muskmelons were one of my favorite projects because there were two of us in Cache Valley working on it together: Myself and Susan from Idaho.

My favorite project this year was okra. This was the third year of the project and I finally had enough to share at the farmer's market! I was still harvesting okra at the end of October, even though our first frost was in September.

I grow potatoes from seed. The poison in potatoes is well behaved. It tastes bitter, and not just a little: Spitting bitter. So I taste the raw tubers from every potato seedling, and don't save tubers from anything that has even the slightest hint of bitterness about it. Potato poison is deactivated by cooking, but for that extra margin of safety, I taste them raw, because the poison really stands out. People have been growing potatoes from seed for millennium, so the poisonous trait has mostly been eliminated. Thinking back I'd estimate that about 1 potato seedling in 30 tastes bitter. Potatoes grow readily from seeds. They like slightly cooler temperatures than tomatoes. They grow more slowly, so I start them for transplant about 7 weeks prior to setting out. They have delicate stems to start, so bright lights help, and burying the stems up to the first true leaves while in the pots helps.

My favorite garden is what I have been calling my "Food Forest". It is a mix of trees, and shrubs, and vines, and forbs that pretty much takes care of itself other than I irrigate it from time to time, and prune most springs. I'm intending to write a more formal introduction to myself, but for today I'll just say I love what I've seen on Permies.com, and I can't believe that I am just finding your site today!
 
Ann Torrence
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
My favorite garden is what I have been calling my "Food Forest". It is a mix of trees, and shrubs, and vines, and forbs that pretty much takes care of itself other than I irrigate it from time to time, and prune most springs. I'm intending to write a more formal introduction to myself, but for today I'll just say I love what I've seen on Permies.com, and I can't believe that I am just finding your site today!

Hi Joseph (waving enthusiastically from Torrey),

Welcome to permies! We hope you can give us some of your spare moments to tell us about your projects, and that you find some useful stuff here in recompense.
 
Dan Boone
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Awesome! So happy you're here! Very interested in hearing about your food forest area when you get the time to write it up.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Dan Boone wrote:Awesome! So happy you're here! Very interested in hearing about your food forest area when you get the time to write it up.


Thanks. A couple years ago I made a food forest video tour.





Since that time I have added hazels and pecans grown from seeds. A couple of peach trees and some cherry seedlings volunteered. The peaches can grow where they are, I'm intending to move the cherries. I'm constantly giving away volunteer walnut trees. I chopped out a few of the lilacs. Haven't replaced them with anything yet. I'm intending to substitute hazelnuts. The raspberry patch gets a little bigger each year. Added asparagus and some bean-pole willows. I've been enjoying making bean poles and pea sticks out of the prunings from the fruit trees. Made a new handle for the lopers out of a limb from the walnut. We added a small greenhouse to grow transplants for the annual fields. I've been cutting a trunk or two per year out of the alder tree and making mushroom logs from them. I've added 4 new varieties of grapes. One of the female kiwi plants flowered finally, after about 10 years, but alas the male isn't cooperating yet. I've been eating the Oregon Grape berries which I didn't call out in the video. A Bryonia alba plant volunteered. I am excited about that, because I am using that as one of the parents in my project to attempt to create a perennial watermelon. I forgot to call out the Swiss Chard which reseeds itself and volunteers most years.

I have decided that I don't like the alder because it is a tree that loves moisture, and I am attempting to grow it in the desert, on a slope that drains quickly, in sandy soil. So it always suffers from lack of water, and the leaves dry out and the tips turn brown, so it always looks sick. If I had more influence over it's fate, it would be replaced with a food producing tree, or at least with something that was more suited to the climate. Did I whine enough about the lilacs yet. They are a great hedge. Good trellis for the grapes. But they take up a lot of space and don't produce food.
 
Dan Boone
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Nice video! You've got a lot of neat stuff growing, especially for where you are.

I miss alders here in Oklahoma; in northern Alaska where I grew up they were (along with birch and willow) one of the predominant deciduous trees. If there are any in OK -- and supposedly there is at least one species -- I haven't seen them yet. I am told they are nitrogen-fixing, which I guess is as good a reason as any to have them around, at least if they will thrive.
 
leila hamaya
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WELCOME Joseph

cool that you found us =)

wish i could whine about having too many lilacs! even though i prioritize food plants i do like to grow some things just for beauty, beauty is important too. =)

maybe you would enjoy replacing them with wild lilacs, ceanothus.
as beautiful but a nitrogen fixer, wildlife food, and drought tolerant (prefers dry and hot). technically even edible leaves, tho i havent tried them and i dont think people would like them as much as animals. used as a tea plant.

all of the wild lilacs around here have been making me happy so its one of my newest plant "friends"...i go through periods like that with different plants where i really get into one for a while...and lately its the feral ceanothus. i guess they are sort of hard to find, except for where they still have some space in the wild. here they are everywhere =)
i am going to get some and start propagating them (its a bit tricky!) for a fedge. i gathered some seeds this year, but they are hard to start from seed....we will see how it goes.

anywho i would be interested in any updates on your projects...i guess we already have this here project thread for you to keep us updated.
as i stated earlier, i have enjoyed your writings. keep up the good work !
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Hmmm. Since this is a permaculture site perhaps I'll focus on projects that I haven't discussed much elsewhere.... If I owned my farm rather than borrowing, I'd convert most of it into a food forest.

I am caretaker of some land in the deep desert. It's very remote, even for people that live around here, where we are used to driving long distances on a whim. It doesn't have cell service. Not from any carrier. It's at about 6000 feet elevation and receives around 5" of rain per year, most of it in the winter. About one year in 4 there is a torrential thunderstorm or monsoonal rain pattern that drops several inches during a single storm in late summer. The land is hilly with about a 7% slope on average in the gullies. So whenever water does flow down the washes it is a raging flood. It is so dry that the sagebrush maxes out at about 6" tall. Not a typo. That's inches!!! Lichens contribute significantly to the total biomass. The deep gullies capture enough moisture that pinon pines and junipers grow sparsely. The land is not fenced and in open range, so cattle graze over it at will.

I entertain fantasies about doing permaculture projects on that land. It is so remote however than I can rarely afford the gas money to get out there, so the projects languish.

My primary manual for the project is Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond by Brad Lancaster. In spite of the warnings in the manual (to start small), the first thing I did was start throwing boulders in the deepest ravine. Truckloads of them. My did I ever have a big pile of boulders. Five years worth of boulders went into the ravine. Then it rained.... A flash flood came down the ravine, and the boulders ended up a thousand feet downstream where the slope isn't so steep. During that same storm, the little things trapped some soil, and it stayed moist for long enough for some weeds to grow. The little things were like: A rotten log laid perpendicular to a rivulet. A layer of rocks a single layer deep laying on bedrock across a small ravine. Brush tossed willy-nilly into a narrow spot in a ravine. Earthen bunds 6" tall nearly on contour. The hoof-prints of a cow.

A small soil retention work. A couple of old logs laid perpendicular across an arroyo . This filled with rocks during the first heavy rain about 2 years after construction. The large size of the collected gravel means flow was quite heavy. The larger boulders were used to hold the logs in place.


Keen observation has been my best tool. I thought I knew how water flows, but I was so misinformed when I started... First of all, everything out there is off-kilter. No matter how carefully I eye-ball something, it's crooked, or not level, or not at all what is seems to be. So the bubble-levels on string, and the water-levels, and slope measuring-gadget have become my friends. I still goof, but not so much. Whenever I can get out there I look at every earthwork and brush pile to notice which ones captured and held onto some damp soil. I notice how they failed, and repair them so that maybe they won't fail next time. If there are rocks on the surface, the water was flowing quickly. The larger the rocks the faster it was flowing. If there is clay that's where the water slowed down and percolated into the ground the most. The rings of organic matter on shrubs and rocks indicate how deep the water was.

The little things have been the easiest to build and to maintain, and the most effective. As I got more used to how water flows I added some larger erosion control devices to the largest ravine... A gabion check-dam which filled with sediment the first time water ran down the ravine after it was built. A piece of fence netting stretched between two trees in the bottom of the ravine, which slowed the water enough that it collected 6 feet deep sediments in a single storm. That was enough to show up on satellite images. I am currently putting brush into the ravine as I prune for firebreaks. Usually I tie them together with a piece of wire, or attach them to a root so that they more or less stay in place, and slow the flow so that gravel can settle out.

The longest near-contour bund that I have dug so far, by hand, is about 100 yards long. It is located just above one of the major break-lines on the land. It only intercepts sheet-flow, not any ravines. It redirects the flow to a natural spillway in bedrock. I keep daydreaming about some kind of gadget I can hook onto the trailer hitch or frame of the truck so that I can scratch bunds more easily than digging by hand.


A small bund about 100 yards long. Built near-contour, just above a break-line. I love the bunches of yellow four-nerved daisies. Flow is towards the camera, but you'd never know it by looking at the photo.


I plant things, and they die... Trees. Bulbs. Seeds. Except that when we were building the road we rescued a hundred or so cactus pads, and grew them in a nursery bed for a year and then returned them to the desert after they were well rooted. Many of those survived and are doing well. I maintain a rock-lichen conservatory out there. They do great. Tree-lichens die.

Supposedly I could harvest pine nuts from the pinion pines if I got there at the right time, and learned how to do it, and beat the animals....

I'm growing a Goji berry at home which was collected about 40 miles away in the same desert. I suppose that it was planted by the Chinese about 150 years ago when the railroad was built. It has survived (barely) all this time without irrigation or care. I'm intending to transplant some of it into the moister places in the bottom of the ravine and along the bunds. The trick might be keeping enough water on it during the first growing season. There would have been enough rain this year due to the unusually abundant monsoonal rains. No telling about next year.

The largest ravine. Pretty much does what it wants when it wants. That gabion contains 36 cubic feet of rock, and took 3 HARD days to build. It filled with gravel during the first storm. Weeds sprouted in the wet gravel.


A closeup of the gabion. It's supposedly level, don't trust the photo.






 
Bill Bradbury
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Hello Joseph,
Great stuff! I've met you a couple of times at the market, but I thought you were just a gardener. I had no idea that you were so into permaculture, especially dryland style.

Though I live now in our beautiful little oasis of fertility, I grew up in the desert. The strategies there are based on a much broader scale, heavy equipment is essential to success in our time. I would love to help you make that a reality, I'll send you a PM with my info.

I also want to swap seeds; I have a couple that you might like and I see that you have an abundance of hard won victories.

Please don't take out all your lilacs, the Chickadees and others like them eat the seeds all winter and the smell is spring.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Ann Torrence wrote:For example, he planted a few hundred hazelnuts seeds and about a dozen survived without weeding.


As an update... A few hazelnuts sprouted the first spring. This spring lots more hazelnuts sprouted prolifically, 14 months after being planted... I weeded them one time this spring. They are thriving.

One of the projects I'm putting a lot of effort into this summer is the okra project. I'm on my 4th year of developing a locally adapted okra landrace. The Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and a few individuals heard about the project and gifted many varieties for me to trial. I planted them in a patch about 20 feet away from my locally adapted okra. Some of them croaked immediately. Some of them are still alive, but heavily eaten by bugs, or not growing. Some are thriving. They really liked the unseasonably hot (100 F) weather we had a few weeks ago. It's still too early to be judging them too harshly. Here's what the patches looked like a few days ago.

Okra trials:


Locally adapted:


I'm dealing with some family issues this year, so I mostly planted big-seeded and fast growing staples like beans, corn, and squash. Things that I can plant, weed once, and they will out-compete the weeds and yield a successful crop. I am growing lots of seed crops, but in small (for me) plantings. For example, the Bok Choi seed crop only produced enough seed to plant about 24 acres!!! Ha!

Bok Choi seed crop: About 80 plants.


This field contains 150 row-feet of squash, 500 row-feet of sweet corn (off the left edge of the photo), 1800 row-feet of dry beans, and about 70 row-feet of watermelon. There are 5 species of beans: favas, common, tepary, cowpeas, and runners. I have been working on developing a seedless watermelon. That experiment is in this field as well. This field is also home to my true garlic seed project.


Here's one of my other fields... This is where the early spring plantings were made. It has some lost crops in it (due to weeds) that are off the right hand side of the photo. They resemble the fallow area with the lush growth in front of the wooden building.... Oops. For the sake of full disclosure, I fail sometimes as a farmer. I don't weed properly. I mis-plant things. I irrigate improperly, etc. I have lots of really stunning successes, but plenty of dismal failures to go along with them. Sometimes the failures are directly my fault. Sometimes they're mere flukes of weather or blind chance. Moving away from the camera the garden contains: A row of kohl rabi and a row of sesame, that I am intending as seed crops. About 6 rows of tomatoes, including 4 species and some inter-species hybrids. Three rows of sweet peppers. 5 rows of squash: Moshcata, mixta, and maxima. The squash are experimental crops and crossing blocks. Things that I am really keen on growing, but I didn't want to risk their pollen getting into my main production crops. Then about 8 rows of sweet corn. The okra trial is beyond the sweet corn. In front of the corn are lagenaria squash, edible dahlias, yellow mustard, watermelons, and F2 sunroots. There are more tomatoes on the far edge of the field. This photo also shows a bush muskmelon planting. I shared seeds with another grower who is interested in developing them further, so I planted one hill just to confirm that what I sent her really were bush types.


A different perspective on the squash patch:


A patch of flour corn which was behind the camera from the perspective of a previous photo. To the right of the corn are a few rows of weedy beets, also fully-weeded tobacco and onions. Some goji seedlings were planted here, but they are not in my visual weed-discrimination memory, so they got chopped out for being unfamiliar.


I have one other main field in which I am growing squash, muskmelons, watermelon, and cucumbers. I haven't taken a photo of it yet this growing season.

So many projects... Such minimal descriptions of so many species, and so much joy. I am way tired this growing season, but super content about how well things are growing in spite of the farmer and his family. Thanks for indulging my musings.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Examples of traits that I am seeking in the experimental squash planting:

Mottle-leaved maxima squash:


Silver-leaved maxima squash: Leaves are a bit hairy, so might repel bugs better.


Fig-leaved moschata squash:


Miniature Butternuts:

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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It's been a great growing season... I'm making lots of progress. I lost a couple of years work on a few of my favorite projects due to finally fleeing a long-term relationship. Blah... It's nice to be able to spend more time in the garden. I lost a few crops to weeds. A few crops produced reasonably in spite of not being weeded.

The runner bean project is finally looking like it will produce a lot of bean seed this year. I have already harvested more than last year for seed, and there are enough still in the garden that I felt comfortable harvesting some as shellies. The large colorful beans in the photo are runner beans. The smaller ones are common beans. Some of my runner beans are now third generation in my garden. I also planted new varieties. There was lots of diversity this year... Some plants flowered since mid-summer but haven't set any seed. Some haven't flowered much yet, and some have set seed prolifically. There's lots of pollinators visiting the flowers: bumblebees, hummingbirds, honeybees.



I've been working on harvesting the dry bean landrace. This was one of the earliest harvests. That pink bean really thrived this growing season. Last season it was a minor component of the early harvest.



I continue to feed myself, my family, and the community with landrace crops.



The warm weather crops were a few weeks late maturing this season. Here's a photo of my first harvest for the year of muskmelons: Two weeks later than the last two growing seasons, but a month earlier than at the start of the project when I harvested immature fruits due to frost.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I harvested 9 sesame seeds today. 90% of the plants died without producing seeds. Two plants produced a few malformed seed pods with a few seeds in them.

There are still 3 plants alive. One has about 20 seed pods on it that look great, but are still green. The other two plants look great but don't have seed pods. I think that I started with 5 to 6 different varieties. I am thrilled with the results. I collected enough seed to try again next year, and there is still a possibility of collecting more... That's all I need to start a plant breeding project: The plants must produce seeds. I can work on things like productivity after the species is reliably reproducing in my garden.

Here's what today's harvest looked like:


My first harvest of runner beans this year produced more seed than the previous 6 years combined. And subsequent harvests have been even bigger! This is the third generation of runner beans in my garden. I often call the third year the magical year. That's because things are finally starting to get adapted well to my garden. The runner bean project was more marginal than most: 100% failure the first 4 years. The continuing attempts over many years with lots of different varieties has finally paid off. The variety that finally produced results was a landrace created by a grower in the Central Valley of California. It came to me mal-adapted, but it was full of genetic diversity so some families managed to produce a few offspring. That was the starting point that this project needed.


Today I harvested the first of the okra for seed. I've been taking lots of fresh okra to the farmer's market:


One of the okra plants is a foot taller than the farmer.


I finally handled the family issue that was sapping my strength and attention and distracting me from farming.

I've been harvesting truckloads of squash:




 
Joseph Lofthouse
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The small-fruited moschata squash landrace is coming along nicely.


I'm also working on an XL fruited landrace.


The landrace with medium sized fruits pretty much takes care of itself these days, with gentle selection to keep it about 90% necked squash, and 10% pumpkins.


These are sister lines, descended from the same set of progenitors, but with ongoing selection pressures designed to turn them into three related but distinguishable landraces. A few other traits caught my eye this summer, and may end up becoming additional sister lines... For example the super-extra long necked squash are a recurring source of daydreams to me:
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Another squash which filled me with daydreams this summer looks like it might be an inter-species hybrid between mixta and moschata. I intend to plant the seeds next spring. If there are even any seeds inside! Then I'll watch the traits to see if they end up mid-way between the suspected parent species, of if there are traits which clearly belong to one species or the other. I thought that I found an inter-species hybrid last fall, but the squash only had 7 seeds between two fruits, and they didn't germinate: Just what I might expect from a hybrid.

Mixta/Moschata Hybrid?


I also attempted to make intentional crosses this year between mixta and moschata. One of the fruits grew normally. I expect to open it to check for seeds in about a month.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Joseph – More Dedicated Than Ever

You've probably heard the saying: _"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99%
perspiration."_ This may be true. But sometimes despite all our hard work,
what we really need is a motivating spark to make incredible things
possible.

For Paradise, Utah farmer and seed grower Joseph Lofthouse, that
transformative event came when he attended RMSA's Seed School last fall.
Joseph has been diligently farming a two-acre plot of land for the past
seven years. During that time, he has selected and saved seed from over 70
different vegetable varieties, developing this diversity into locally
adapted landraces that thrive in their unique growing conditions and
reflect Joseph and his community's tastes and habits.

This is quite an impressive feat for one young farmer. But after a spark of
inspiration from Seed School, his efforts leapt to the next level.

"IT SEEMS TO ME ONE YEAR LATER THAT COMING TO SEED SCHOOL CHANGED MY LIFE
AND CONVERTED ME FROM A FARMER THAT GROWS HIS OWN SEEDS INTO A SEEDSMAN."
Joseph says. "My self-confidence soared. Today, my conviction is that what
I am doing is the key to my people's long-term survival. This is a core
belief I carry at the center of my being."

Joseph's story is powerful--but not unique. We've seen these
transformations time and again as our Seed School students step out into
the world empowered and changed by what they've learned. And with _upwards
of 700 graduates and counting_, that's a lot of inspiration to go around.
These seed leaders are setting up seed libraries, launching local seed
companies, and teaching their communities about seed saving.

Over the coming year, the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance will continue to
build on this momentum with our acclaimed educational programs. So far, we
have a specialized Grain School [2] planned in January and a second Seed
School Teacher Training [3] set for March. With your help, we can provide
hundreds more people like Joseph with that life-changing spark to transform
our food system--and our world--for the better.

Just like one seed can create thousands more, each Seed School graduate can
have an exponential impact. MAKE A YEAR-END GIFT TODAY TO SUPPORT RMSA'S
CRUCIAL WORK IN SEED EDUCATION AND STEWARDSHIP. [4] Thank you for helping
spark this inspiring movement!

Happy harvests,

Bill McDorman, Belle Starr, and John Caccia
Founders

JOSEPH LOFTHOUSE WRITES THE LANDRACE GARDENING BLOG FOR MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
KEEP UP WITH HIS SEED MUSINGS AND INSIGHTS HERE

 
leanna jones
Posts: 38
Location: Pennines, northern England, zone 7b, avg annual rainfall 50"
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just wanted to say thank you for all your posts, please keep it up

i'm also market gardening with a short growing season, but with opposite conditions: very, very wet and cool, little sun. i'm inspired by your work to try to develop some landraces here, i feel drawn to trying tomatoes or squash - with conventional seed i'm getting very sad little yields in a polytunnel and they are impossible to grow outside.

i will be studying all the info you've put out and will make at least a small start in 2016.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 1708
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands
315
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
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Leanna: Thank you for the encouragement.

Until a week or so ago, I hadn't written a blog for Mother Earth News for about a year. Things at home were going from bad to worse, and I was loathe to do what needed doing. I allowed that to distract me from farming and from writing. I handled that situation 4 months ago today. I've mostly picked myself up and am getting with the program again. About a week ago I published a blog about growing garlic from true seeds. I am excited about that project because it will allow us, eventually, to grow localized varieties of landrace garlic. I have put more hours and resources into the garlic project than any other plant breeding project. I think it's that important.

I have some crops, for example runner beans, that have been a constant struggle for years. I planted runner beans 5 years in a row before harvesting any seeds. Other crops grow reliably regardless of how badly I mistreat them. Once I found the right genetics the runner bean project is progressing very nicely.

With your tomatoes, I think that there is a lot that can be done to select for families that do better in poly-tunnel culture. Perhaps some day you can even aspire to outside growing. I'm not very excited about growing lettuce or broccoli because it is so arid here that they are bitter as can be. I could probably do something about selecting for better varieties, but that would involve tasting a lot of really nasty so-called foods. I bet that those crops thrive for you!

Runner Beans, enough for planting, eating, and sharing: Took me 7 years to get to this point.

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Galadriel Freden
Posts: 345
Location: West Yorkshire, UK
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leanna jones wrote:just wanted to say thank you for all your posts, please keep it up

i'm also market gardening with a short growing season, but with opposite conditions: very, very wet and cool, little sun. i'm inspired by your work to try to develop some landraces here, i feel drawn to trying tomatoes or squash - with conventional seed i'm getting very sad little yields in a polytunnel and they are impossible to grow outside.

i will be studying all the info you've put out and will make at least a small start in 2016.


Leanna, I'm in West Yorkshire, and I have saved tomato and pumpkin seeds; my tomatoes were grown outside in deep planters next to my south facing house wall, and I even picked another one today: Christmas Day! This is the first year I've had more than just a handful of ripe fruits, so I saved some seeds.

The pumpkins actually came from a local farm (Doncaster area), also grown outdoors--we picked them the Monday before Halloween. I didn't grow them myself, and I'm pretty sure they're not organic, but I'm going to try growing the seeds myself this coming season, seeing as they grew and fruited well outdoors. I don't know if they'll grow, but it's worth a try.

If you want, I can post you a dozen or so tomato seeds, and/or a couple dozen pumpkin seeds. If you're interested, send me a pm.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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