Jeff Rash

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since Jan 22, 2014
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Recent posts by Jeff Rash


Another crazy idea of mine is starting a permaculture seed bank. Those of you that might have interest in this, please read on! I searched around the site, but was unable to find anything about seed banks.

I think the need is real. We all have seeds that we know grow great in our particular climates or that exhibit special characteristics that lend themselves to particular types of permaculture growing methods.

For instance, I had a strain of sweet corn that I had developed over a three year period to grow well in the deserts of Arizona. It was developed specifically to be planted deep in the soil at four inches. It was water miserly for corn and outdid many of the other plants that are supposed to be "drought resistant." After an economic upheaval and subsequent cross country move, this strain has since been lost. (I am seeking to create a new strain soon, using my notes and new seeds.)

But my point is, why should we lose these varieties that work so well in our particular microclimate because something happens to us? Why should we not strive to preserve and distribute these varieties to others that they may use them to feed themselves and others, as well as develop their own local varieties based on a particular strain?

Why can't we all be members of a seed bank run by those with interests in small scale farming and permaculture? A seed bank seems like a good idea to me...

Some advantages:

Resistant to plagues. Local varieties exhibit a lot of variety, obviously. That genetic diversity tends to prevent the retention of vulnerabilities in seed. When we are all planting the same thing, grown in one or two places and shipped all across the nation, guess what? We are setting ourselves up for failure. Some would argue, perhaps rightfully so, that if we removed all the chemicals and pesticides, the truly vulnerable nature of the handful of strains we all depend on would be obvious.

Resistant to seed company marketing whims. I work in IT. I am constantly bombarded with what I can only call the whims of marketing people. They truly don't seem to have any idea of my needs or budgets. The same is true of seed companies I suspect. They most likely spend a lot of money trying to predict the unpredictable- that being the desires of next years small scale farmers and gardeners. Much easier to do what Madison Avenue claims is successful. Forget what the market says it wants, create a demand by telling the customer what they want- and then fill it! A lot of us get by this new tendency with our own strains. Why not share these and potentially make even better plants?

Helping those new to the cause. Everybody starts somewhere. Most of us start with WalMart seed displays of whatever the display says is right for our gardens. Would it not be better for the cause to introduce people to a seedbank with proven varieties of seeds that grow (and taste) great in their area? It's then a lot simpler to introduce people to permaculture methods from there.

Ok, so that's three reason's right there. There are many more.

So I must confess that while I have project experience galore and enough organizational sense to know what's needed in the form of a bureaucracy, I don't know anything about seed banks! Anybody have some advice? Anybody know of existing seed banks that we might pair with? Anybody know anything about long term seed storage for protected germination?

It would be much easier to pair with an existing seed bank than to try to start one from scratch.

Regardless, a seed bank run by Permies seems a very reasonable and good thing to me. Anybody interested?

7 years ago
To the original OP,

I was able to grow corn and other supposed "non sand" vegetables in the deserts of the Arizona. The trick is understanding the soil or the sand and how it works with water. The water needed for your vegetables is NOT draining away. The excess is draining away to be stored at deeper levels. Each grain of sand is a vast reservoir of nooks and crannies that store water- you just need to understand how to tap that water for your vegetables use. The solution I rediscovered is an amalgamation of the local Navajo and Apache Indians planting methods. That and it is tweaked to allow the use of small tractors like a Troy-bilt. (Or you could use any other motorized device. You don't till the soil though- you trench it.)

The secret is to do what the Indians who lived in sandy areas did. If you follow the methods in the mentioned thread below, you should have no trouble with sandy soils. At least I did not. I was able to grow a quarter acre of corn in Kingman Arizona- 100% sand. No manure, no anything. Just virgin desert. Once I developed the deep roots method, I never had a problem. Sunflowers, pumpkins, cantaloupe, honeydew, peas, carrots, you name it I grew it.

The sand is not sucking your water away, it is filling up the reservoirs in each grain of sand and then moving to the next layer of sand, until hydrostatic tension is in balance with the wicking nature of soil. It's like a bank vault really, that you can then later pull moisture from. It's how deserts somehow mange to retain vegetation year round- even though it has not rained in nine months.

Here is the post:

Look for the "Project Deep Roots" file in the first post. That's the technique in a nutshell that I put into a proposal for the Arizona Grain Research Council. Should give you a basic understanding of the Trench Method for growing just about anything. It works in all soil types, but in sands it REALLY shines!

You are further welcome to contact me here, there or offboard at

Happy planting and if you try the method, PLEASE do keep in touch with results! I want to prove this across as many people as possible to make sure it's not a local phenomenon. The beautiful thing is, the trench method works in places where hugelkultur is challenged. If you have mixed use lands of moderate rainfall or better with sandy soils, this might just be what you are looking for! I know if you live in desert sands like I did, this is exactly what you are looking for!

7 years ago

Graham Elliott wrote:I'm going to give some of this a try around a residence. I just moved to Bullhead City / Laughlin.

Seeds arrive on the 5th! Corn (which I'm hoping will help me branch out from shaded to unshaded areas as sun cover until I can get some shade cloth), melons, peas and broad (lima) beans, some amaranth, a desert hardy wild cherry tomato, and I'll hopefully have sprouted dates and a chayote soon.

One of the trees down the street is dropping seeds and I need to collect some as well. Wish my digital camera worked and I could photo and ID it.


How did this work for you? I know Bullhead City is BRUTAL in the summer. It makes Kingman look like a tropical paradise! Still, with the right cover crops I don't think you will need the shade cloth. All the locals told me you can't grow corn in the desert. Or if you can, it has to be constantly tended to in a green house or shade environment with constant and copious amounts of water. I bristled at that- the Indians grew it with none of that stuff in very large acreage. With adequate trenching and occasional water, I proved beyond doubt that one could grow "water hungry corn" on a large scale in the desert. I more or less just updated what the Indians already did to something that lends itself to automation. I used no shade cloth, no greenhouses and not much water. I am fairly sure that in a normal to wet year, one may have to employ no water at all. (As mentioned in previous posts, I was on my way to proving this when the economic bottom fell out of my life.)

So I am interested to hear what results you had? The biggest problem you might find is pest management, in that any green thing, if planted outside the local moisture cycle, becomes a source of water for the Kangaroo Rats and Rabbits. Work with the natural moisture cycle and you can avoid pests altogether.

7 years ago
Hello Steve,

I am happy to talk about this with you. It should work with any crop by the way. I proved it with sunflowers and pumpkins too.

You can email me at and I can then forward the grant study I did for the Arizona Grain Research Council. And of course you are welcome to ask me anything you like.

I was working on oats and wheat too, but then the bottom of my life fell out. My eventual goal was a modern day version of the local Indians "Three Sisters" crop. They grew corn, beans and squash all together. Corn first in the spring, then as soon as it shot up a bit, beans. (Affixed nitrogen lost to the corn and grew on the corn itself.) Then pumpkins or squash later on. Pumpkins cover the area with broad leaves and wow, what a difference in water retention! My goal with the Three Sisters was to build a combine that both harvested the corn and the beans together. Separation is relatively easy due to size and density differences- I don't see why it can't be done fairly easily. In my manual experiments, the two crops lend themselves quite well to sifting methods.

I was working on tooling to make the trenches with a tractor at the end as well and will be happy to discuss with you. (It's actually quite simple and inexpensive to make.) The tooling is truly the breakthrough once the method is established of deep planting. If the deserts of the world are to bloom, automation must be employed at all three phases. (Trenching, Planting and Harvest.)

If you are interested in this only from the small farm approach, where much of the work is manual or done with small machinery, I have that part down. The techniques I developed were based around a Troy-Bilt tiller, without actually tilling the ground. Trenching is much less invasive and only disturbs the soil you are actually using. That's as compared to a full tilling method as employed by modern agriculture where an entire field is tilled fence to fence.

If anyone else wants details or to discuss, you can reply here or email me at


7 years ago
WOW! The person above this post deserves a reward, lol. Are you from a software\beta tester background?

I ran a test in Chrome version 47.0.2526.106 m (latest versionas of post) and all came up as expected.


Stu Horton wrote:Jeff,

I'd love to get a link to your you tube channel. Sounds interesting. A search with community endurance had a lot of results.


I started the website and the channel nearly a year ago- then came down with Crohn's disease! Just now recovered from it and got my mind and body to the point that I am functional again. (You would be shocked how many people have Crohn's!)

My point is that I only made one video and one shortwave radio review for the website before things fell apart.

The video was of how to clean out and reuse a basement cistern! Second phase is to solar power a small water pump that will allow us to at least bathe and flush. Third phase is to bypass city sewers and use the septic tank as an emergency device only. (In a crisis, people care more about taking a bath and flushing- I have no worries about legal hassles. I am sure to get a permit from the city in a true crisis.) Was a great project! However, it was a summer project. The AC was running in the basement nearly the whole time. What sounded whisper quiet to me sounded like a hurricane on the video! I was so ticked...

Going to do a redo on that video, because it's worth it to the community. MANY in the Midwest and East have cisterns that can be recovered. A source of even unsterile water that is clean enough to bathe in makes a huge difference in enduring a crisis. Disease and "personal critters" run rampant when one cannot bathe regularly.

So don't expect anything too spectacular once you get to the channel and website!

Here is the website:

It does at least have a landing page. (If anybody knows of some easy to use software to build webpages, PLEASE HELP!)

Here is my YouTube channel too:

It's going to get busy as I add videos to it. My latest video I am shooting now is how to get "dead" AGM batteries for free and then fix them near new. (Most have one simple thing wrong with them that anybody could safely fix.) These batteries are then going into my water system to power it 24/7. Even if they are truly dead, they are valuable recyclables at around $2 to $25 depending on size. Not exactly residual income, but income nonetheless! I show how to do it, test them and how to make contacts in your community to find them for free! Most businesses consider them to be a nuisance, and will seek you out once you get a reputation.

Anyway, thanks for your interest and if you want to explore how to start your own endurance community channel, please don't hesitate to speak up! (That goes for anybody.) I will be happy to cross promote, just Like Paul Wheaton here at! (I listened to one of his podcasts on cross promotions, really good info.)


PS- If anybody wants info on creating YouTube video, equipment, etc, as a residual income stream, please feel free to respond! I was making videos back in the days of tape and shuttle systems and can steer you right to do this both good and inexpensive. Email is
7 years ago

Tyler Ludens wrote:

Jeff Rash wrote:

There is a huge audience that's cast off from the survival channels and websites that want to learn about off-grid methods and working with their community during a crisis. I hope to bring them into both caring about their community and learning about the permie lifestyle.

I eventually abandoned the prepper crowd because of the things you mention. There's little hope amongst the preppers - there's tons of hope (and, more importantly - action!) here on permies.

I hear you there! There are a lot of people involved in the fantasy of survival. They focus on the fact that personal freedom in a crisis is all one has to rely on. But instead of doing something right with that freedom, they focus on how to abuse it for personal power and pride. Hence the focus on weapons. I believe people should own a gun IF they will be responsible for it, but I have to laugh at these guys that focus on nothing but weapons and call it "survival." I laugh, because you can't eat bullets and guns. I am a farmer. I raise food. These "survivalist" will be trading all their gear to me for corn. Sure, they could hunt with those guns, but meat is nothing without the full balanced diet- and anybody can hunt. Game will be wiped out- leaving only your friendly farmer.

Well they could just shoot me...

I know that won't happen, because endurance level farming IS hard to learn. It takes a long time to develop the needed skills. (Took me four years.) So if I die quick from a bullet, the shooter dies slow from starvation. I am a one man farm and food expert- the one guy that knows what he is doing.

And that's the point of the channel, partly. I want to make other "Community Endurance" types that sway their community now, before that 100 year flood happens that knocks out services for six months like it did here in Valley City, ND. Or a manmade disaster strikes, (see the stock market crash today?) that really sends us for a whammy. Those that are in the lead with know how will be the new community leaders. They will be seen as "recovery central." (Hence my effort to build and join a CERT here in ND.)

But this is about residual income too!

I intend to place ads in the videos via YouTube. I hope to build enough videos to make it work and help fund my education efforts, that reality is about crisis endurance, not about zombies and killing your neighbors. I started in survivalism and was pretty much turned off. But it did lead me to permaculture as an alternative.

7 years ago

Mr. Wheaton,

I am running a YouTube channel about Community Endurance. I came from, (read left,) the "survival movement" because I grew sick of hearing about the best weapons to kill all my neighbors with and what type of sword works best against zombies. Weapons and self defense are important, but why not unite your community around your methods and knowledge ahead of time? Why not establish yourself as the go to person for relief, education and teaching before things go nuts? If the community sees you as the one person who is prepared and sharing that knowledge- what a difference.

So I see most clearly that our causes are aligned.

People survive a crisis as individuals, but a community endures a crisis together. A sustainable approach is a real and truly viable method of enduring a crisis. (Be that man made or natural.) Off grid methods will suddenly become VERY important in a true disaster!

As the channel takes off, I should like to do reviews of your excellent materials and obtain a residual income opportunity. I am also interested in cross advertising, as the channel gains viewers.

I tried contacting your advertising email, but have not heard back. That's likely just due to the volume of email you get!

Regardless, I would love to develop a relationship between audiences and cross promote. I am small now, but with my contacts in CERTs from around the area, I think you will find long term value as my audience grows. (CERT stands for Civilian Emergency Response Team. We are mostly an auxiliary to local first responders, but in a crisis, we run shelters, provide information, run lost & found locations for families and we even do light search and rescue.)

There is a huge audience that's cast off from the survival channels and websites that want to learn about off-grid methods and working with their community during a crisis. I hope to bring them into both caring about their community and learning about the permie lifestyle.

Your thoughts Sir? (Anyone else is welcome to respond too.)

Most Sincerely,

7 years ago
Thanks for all the feedback!

Actually my thinking has evolved a bit to use metal piping to create raised platform for the bees. The these bees can be inspected by the county bee agent without having to climb up anything or otherwise involve a herculean task. Surplus honey can be harvested back to the landowner as payment in kind. That's because the bee house rides up and down on the vertical pipes like railing does on an automated gate.

This would mean that private landowners hereabouts can still donate the use of their land, but I don't have to be situated anywhere in particular on their land. I can pick areas that are ideal for bees, but not frequented by destructive people.

So think of four posts in the ground, rising vertically. This makes a sturdy cage with a pulley mounted at the top. A platform that rises up and down these poles is where the hive sets. On it are maybe two or three nuc boxes, designed to get a good colony of bees going and safe through the winters. From there, they will run out of space and naturally swarm. Those swarms will hopefully wind up repopulating the natural places bees find homes quickly. But the good thing is, I am thinking the landowners will come to think of these bees as part of their family, part of their land. Given the fact that they don't have to worry about the bees, that this is approximation of a wild tree hive and that the hive is left much to its own devices, I hold some hope out for the idea. (Plus it can still be inspected by the state and county AG people.)

It's as you said though, the pipes will need to support a lot of weight. A Spring project for sure!

7 years ago