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Joseph Lofthouse

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since Dec 16, 2014

Joseph Lofthouse grew up on the farm and in the community that was settled by his ggg-grandmother and her son. He still farms there. Growing conditions are high-altitude brilliantly-sunlit desert mountain valley in Northern Utah with irrigation, clayish-silty high-pH soil, super low humidity, short-season, and intense radiant cooling at night. Joseph learned traditional agricultural and seed saving techniques from his grandfather and father. Joseph is a sustenance market farmer and landrace seed-developer. He grows seed for about 95 species. Joseph is enamored with landrace growing and is working to convert every species that he grows into adaptivar landraces. He writes the Landrace Gardening Blog for Mother Earth News.
Farming Philosophy
Promiscuous Pollination and ongoing segregation are encouraged in all varieties. Joseph's style of landrace gardening can best be summed up as throwing a bunch of varieties into a field, allowing them to promiscuously cross pollinate, and then through a combination of survival-of-the-fittest and farmer-directed selection saving seeds year after year to arrive at a locally-adapted genetically-diverse population that thrives because it is closely tied to the land, the weather, the pests, the farmer's habits and tastes, and community desires.
Joseph lives under a vow of poverty and grows using subsistence level conditions without using cides or fertilizers. He prefers to select for genetics that can thrive under existing conditions. He figures that it is easier to change the genetics of a population of plants than it is to modify the soil, weather, bugs, etc. For example, because Joseph's weeding is marginal, plants have to germinate quickly, and burst out of the soil with robust growth in order to compete with the weeds.
Joseph is preserving the genes of thousands of varieties of plants, but does not keep individual varieties intact or pure. The stories don't matter to him. What matters is the web of ongoing life. For his purposes a squash is a squash is a squash. Plant purity doesn't exist in Joseph's world, other than in very broad ways like keeping hot peppers separate from sweet peppers. Some landraces might even contain multiple species!
Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Recent posts by Joseph Lofthouse

Carol Deppe wrote:2017 AT FERTILE VALLEY SEEDS

Injury, death in the family, loss of helper just before seed season, server changes making FVS e-mail list inaccessible, and just about everything else imaginable went wrong. Most seed orders were simply not filled. I apologize abjectly for this. At least, in almost all cases, the checks were not cashed either. So people didn’t get the seeds they wanted, but at least they didn’t pay for the seeds they didn’t get.  But some very early orders did have checks cashed without seeds being shipped (while I was still filling orders, before I got overwhelmed completely). If you ordered seed in 2017 and the check wasn’t cashed, just order again from the 2018 catalog. (Your check from 2017 is stale-dated, so there is no point in my trying to fill those orders.) If you ordered in 2017 and the check was cashed, if I have not already contacted you, email me at If you ordered in 2018 from the 2017 catalog, your seeds will be arriving soon if you don’t have them already.

A moldy mushroom fruit is often not moldy. It's just growing more mycelia.
1 day ago

Allergic reactions to eggs are common enough that Utah's new food freedom legislation requires a warning label on foods that are prepared in the same kitchen as eggs.

I suppose that we don't hear much about duck egg allergies, because they are eaten so infrequently by so few people.
Duck Allergy: An Introduction
2 days ago

I manage my strawberries similar to Leora. I plant in rows, then after a row has been producing for 2-3 years, I run the tiller over it. The runners are left as a new row a few feet away from where the previous row was. So the strawberry beds migrate across the field. I might till a row under if perennial grasses have overtaken it. After the grass is minimized, then the strawberries may be allowed to reclaim the area.
3 days ago
Allergies seem additive to me... No big deal if I get exposed to cottonwood dander. But if I get exposed to cottonwood dander, and have a bit of an allergy to wheat, soy, dairy, etc and I'm eating those foods, or exposing myself to common allergens like soaps, fragrances, cosmetics, pets,  then they all add up, and the cottonwood dander is what pushes me over the edge...

I concur with many of the excellent suggestions in Sharol's blog.

I have a family member that is severely troubled by allergies. Our mitigation strategy consists of the following:

  • Eat only organic foods, and pay close attention to identifying and avoiding allergy-inducing foods. Common allergenic foods include: milk, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish. Keeping a food/symptoms journal can help in identifying problematic foods.
  • Live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
  • Prepare meals from actual fruits, vegetables, and meats. No mystery pastes, chips, sauces, breads, cakes, candies, etc. Avoid foods pre-packaged into boxes or plastic bags.
  • Use only water for cleaning, no soaps, detergents, fragrances, drier sheets, shampoos, etc
  • Cook only in stainless steel, glass/ceramic, or cast iron.
  • Treat the house as a quarantine location. Removing street clothing at the door and putting on clean clothing, or living nude inside. No shoes inside. Guests are not allowed inside if contaminated. A lot of potential guests arrive highly contaminated with perfumes and laundry chemicals, even though we warn them ahead of time that we don't allow those inside.
  • Removing carpeting, and living on wood flooring.
  • Eliminating oils from diet that are high in Omega-6 (soy, canola, corn, peanut, cottonseed). Our allowed oils are butter, lard, coconut, flax, olive.
  • Drink plenty of water, electrolytes, and herbal infusions.
  • No pets allowed.
  • Wear masks as needed. Particularly when outside, or visiting commercial buildings. Our masks are knit fabric. They also seem helpful at night as a method of increasing humidity.

  • Marshall: We found that higher humidity is helpful. Seems like that works for you also. You might consider a more effective humidifier.

    If there are certain garden tasks that put you over the edge (perhaps threshing the wheat), you might consider hiring someone to do that task for you.

    3 days ago

    I really don't want to die from malaria

    The death rate after contracting malaria is around 3 in 1000.  So chances are pretty good that you won't die from malaria, even if you get infected.
    4 days ago
    I have been successful cultivating morels. The easiest way is to blend up spawn (whole mushrooms, dirty end pieces, dehydrated fruits, etc)  in water, then pour it over a thick bed of wood chips. We also save the rinse water and use it as inoculant.
    It's morel wildcrafting season at my farm.

    The parts that we don't eat will get blended up in water, and poured as inoculant over wood chips.

    Living habitually barefoot is a great way to eliminate smelly odors from feet. I guess that goes along with keeping them dry.
    4 days ago
    In my garden, most corn pollen falls approximately straight down, most of the time. Therefore, at my place, corn tends towards self pollination. For example, I accidentally planted a seed for colored kernels in my white popcorn patch. The top cob is from the stray seed. The bottom cob is what got contaminated. It is obvious which kernels received pollen from the colored cob, because pollen that carries the "color" gene shows up in the kernels that were pollinated by it.

    I haven't counted the kernels, but what's that? Only about 5% visible cross-pollination at 3 feet separation? Then double that to 10%, since 1/2 of the pollen from the colored plant is for white kernels.

    6 days ago