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Joseph Lofthouse
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

Aislinn Caron wrote:I'm so fascinated by the idea of adapting seeds/plants by starting them in poor conditions! Any more thoughts or info? I've searched online but I don't even know what to call it!



I call it "landrace gardening". Growing genetically diverse populations which allows for local adaptation to the environment and farmer's habits.

You get what you select for... Even if the selection is unintentional. For example, if you use fertilizer, mulch, wood-chips, materials, methods, or crop protection chemicals, then you are selecting for varieties that do best when grown under those particular conditions. The industrialized seed industry has selected for varieties that require inorganic fertilizer, crop protection chemicals, weeding, etc. When industrialized seeds are grown outside of those conditions, they tend to fail.

Some examples: I know a grower for a seed company that uses plastic for everything they grow. They are selecting for plants that thrive when grown with an abundance of plastic. Then, when those plants get into the hands of backyard Joe, who never uses plastic, they fail to thrive, because the plants are dependent on the conditions that plastic creates.

My climate is super-arid and brilliantly sunlit with large day/night temperature swings. When people buy organic seeds grown in damp/overcast/mild Oregon, they tend to fail, because the plants are not adapted to those kinds of growing conditions.

Some people always trellis their tomatoes, because they say that the plants die of disease if the foliage touches the ground. I grow my tomatoes sprawling directly on the ground. The field sprinklers cover the foliage with dirt. They don't care, because that is the conditions under which they have lived since time immemorial. Any tomato that can't handle the dirt can't grow on my farm. Generation after generation, my habits and ecosystem select for varieties of tomatoes that thrive when covered with dirt.

I don't fertilize my fields, nor do anything to protect the plants from bugs or diseases. Varieties that can thrive under those conditions become the ancestors of my current varieties. Year after year, the local adaptation becomes better and better. The plants get used to the ecosystem in my fields, and to my habits as a farmer. I am blissfully unaware that there are even bugs or diseases in my garden, cause susceptible varieties died out ages ago.

When I taste every plant before saving seeds from it, the plants quickly learn the flavors and textures that are most pleasing to me. The crops become like divine manna.

This type of selection for consistent productivity and  local adaptation happens quickest and most reliably with genetically diverse populations, which is why I encourage promiscuous pollination and mingling of varieties. In other words "landrace gardening". I really value consistent reliability from my varieties, which is why I landrace everything.




Aislinn Caron
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

Lauren Ritz wrote:I've been seed saving for years--pretty much the only seeds that come into the yard at this point are gifted to me. Everything else I grew.

It's interesting to see the variations over time.

Bell peppers: It took four years to get a single pepper to set fruit. Most did not survive my deliberately evil germination practices. Last year I had three survive and fruit. This year I have six, two of them currently blooming. Two others are still tiny. Next year I will again start seeds in bad soil, with little water, ignoring temperature and light variations. And if I get five survivors, I'll be moving in the right direction. It doesn't help that two years ago I accidentally mixed "my" seeds with the commercial seeds. So I'm probably getting a mix of adapted and non-adapted.

I plant tomatoes the same way. The survivors are stronger, relatively immune to light frost and heat, and don't need as much water as their "varietal" cousins.

Spaghetti squash is a relatively new import. I planted it the first time three years ago and got nothing. One survivor, no fruit. Last year I got one fruit and kept the seeds. This year I have five--all that I planted survived--one of which has thrown off squash bugs and earwigs while the others are being eaten alive. First to bloom, first to fruit, I'll be keeping seeds from that one this year.

In everything I plant I am aiming for drought tolerance and the ability to spit "not good enough" back in my face and thrive in spite of me.





I'm so fascinated by the idea of adapting seeds/plants by starting them in poor conditions! Any more thoughts or info? I've searched online but I don't even know what to call it!
Mathew Trotter
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

Happy to report that one of the presents I know I'll be getting for the holidays is a packet of Joseph's landrace tepary beans from EFN. I'm excited to see how they perform here, and I'll hopefully get plenty of seeds to carry forward into future generations. We definitely have dry under control, but I don't know if we get quite as warm as they'd like.
Lauren Ritz
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I don't have chickens yet, but I have a friend who raises golden Wyandottes. She said she'll tell me when one of her hens goes broody and give me some chicks. Then I'll get a different breed of rooster, one with good foraging genes.

Lindsey, I'd be curious to know what happens with your tepary beans. Mine seem to be rather finicky and I haven't gotten any seeds in three years. One year they apparently got too much water and didn't start to bloom until late fall (although the plants were beautiful), one year they didn't get enough, and I'm not sure about the third. Bad soil? Three different sets of seeds, so it's probably something environmental.
Hugo Morvan
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I save lots of seeds, try to mix in other races if i can and share what's good to my friends and wide community. What leads to stuff coming back. What leads to more crossing.
I buy species which i don't have preferably from small companies of freaky seed savers.
I consider good seeds, as a seed that comes from a plant that thrived, so does well locally and produces lots of seeds.
I am not in the process yet of selecting for taste / size / colour of the breeds i do, neither am i like the brave above not using compost, i amend our local soils as well as breeding plants and trees that i don't have to buy.
The subject is also on animals, i have some chickens , but they're from the factories, would love to have a local race.
Good luck everybody. Landrace everything!
Lindsey Jane
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I love this concept. I'm on board! Let's do it!

This is the first year that I have managed to save ALL the seed we need for the farm for the next couple of years. After last springs blitz by casual food growers depleted seed supplies, I realized I needed to step up my game for seed saving and allowing things to cross breed and then saving from the most delicious and best suited. I'm in the tiny, infant stages of landrace food growing, but it's excited to think about where it's going.

I guess I've already done this with squash (the "gateway" food for landrace perpetuation) but I'm excited to try it this year with corn. And we've been doing that with garlic and potatoes for years now, I just never put a term to it. I just keep the best performers for seed and go from there.

I've also brought in some white Tepary beans from Ramona Farms (https://www.ramonafarms.com/) down in AZ to boost up my drought tolerant seed game. They aren't a seed house - they sell beans and corn for food, but considering the long shelf life of the Tepary beans, I figure I can get a harvest out of them. These do not need a ton of water, and thrive in the desert, so I wanted to start introducing them to our summers here in the PNW - which can range from hot and dry to lukewarm and dry (such as summer 2020 - or as I call it - "the summer that never was"). I'd like to really center our food growing on drought and cold tolerant crops. And then select for the best cultivars out of the already specialized group.

Time, right? Time and patience and attention and then a bit more time.
Mathew Trotter
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I'm also in western Oregon, and this is the first year that I've really had the space to start doing a considerable amount of seed saving. Right now I'm testing singular varieties, but more and more I'm contemplating working with landraces. I'm already selecting old varieties for the genetics which may have been lost through breeding. To that end, I'm working with crapaudine beets (a purported 1,000 years old) and St. Valery carrots (a purported 400 years old} in addition to a number of other old varieties. I've given some thought to adding in varieties that have been selected for size and earliness, since those are the traits I'm most missing with these older varieties. At the other end of the spectrum, I'm trialing a hybrid okra which is the first I've seen that really looks promising in this region, and I hope to do the work to dehybridize it, or use it as a jumping off point for a locally adapted landrace. At the same time, everything I save is automatically being selected for it's ability to survive without irrigation, and under organic growing conditions which exclude any non-manual treatments for pest and disease. This year claimed quite a few plants because of the especially high prevalence of fungal disease and tests, but that also means that my surviving genetics are naturally tougher... though, now I'll need to add in additional genetics to make sure I'm not limiting my gene pool too severely.

Also planning to do work with fruits and nuts, both native and introduced. I'm planning to create traditional hedges with primarily native species, both from seeds and from air layers of already productive specimens. The native hazel is one of my top picks, but I'm also planning to plant my hedges thickly with other native edibles, nitrogen fixers, and useful plants like willow. Not all of the species I've selected are likely to hold up to pleaching, but enough should. It'll be a learning process.

With my introduced stuff, I'm mostly looking at precocious things like peaches (and jackfruit inside the greenhouse) and in working with warmer climate species, since our temperatures are trending upwards. In another decade or two, species which merely survive right now may be some of the few that thrive.

For animals, breeding for ability to survive on forage and scraps is the goal. I had Icelandic chickens previously, but found they were a bit too wild for my tastes. Right not I only have Buff Orpingtons, since I favor their temperament, but I've considered adding in some Bielefelder for additional size, and maybe also adding in some Icelandic for their scrappiness and foraging ability. Not sure that my preferred temperament is compatible with the qualities I like in the Icelandics though. I've also heard good things about Welsummers as a homesteading breed, and may add those genetics as well.
Lauren Ritz
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I've been seed saving for years--pretty much the only seeds that come into the yard at this point are gifted to me. Everything else I grew.

It's interesting to see the variations over time.

Bell peppers: It took four years to get a single pepper to set fruit. Most did not survive my deliberately evil germination practices. Last year I had three survive and fruit. This year I have six, two of them currently blooming. Two others are still tiny. Next year I will again start seeds in bad soil, with little water, ignoring temperature and light variations. And if I get five survivors, I'll be moving in the right direction. It doesn't help that two years ago I accidentally mixed "my" seeds with the commercial seeds. So I'm probably getting a mix of adapted and non-adapted.

I plant tomatoes the same way. The survivors are stronger, relatively immune to light frost and heat, and don't need as much water as their "varietal" cousins.

Spaghetti squash is a relatively new import. I planted it the first time three years ago and got nothing. One survivor, no fruit. Last year I got one fruit and kept the seeds. This year I have five--all that I planted survived--one of which has thrown off squash bugs and earwigs while the others are being eaten alive. First to bloom, first to fruit, I'll be keeping seeds from that one this year.

In everything I plant I am aiming for drought tolerance and the ability to spit "not good enough" back in my face and thrive in spite of me.
Kimberley Rowan
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I’ve been saving seed of especially happy, healthy plants for several years now, but definitely upped my game this year, for the reasons you’ve all shared. I love the idea of applying it to my animals, too. Our heat & humidity is hard on all the creatures living here, so this has given me much to ponder & plan. Thank you!! 😊
William Schlegel
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

James Landreth wrote:I've started breeding rhubarb. Our summers are getting hotter and drier, so it's actually hard to get it through now in full sun. I have one that I grew from seed two years ago and I'm saving seed from it and others this year.



I guess my rhubarb breeding is super casual but I am slowly moving in that direction. I let one of my plants go to seed last year or the year before and have since scattered the seed somewhere. Though selfed seed from one plant is not really much of a breeding project.

I also have one small but slowly getting larger seed grown rhubarb from Michael Pilarski's Scatterseed mix.

Rhubarb is fine here still so far, though I don't really think of it as a full season crop. I eat it in the spring till homegrown fruit starts to get ripe.

EFN had a rhubarb breeder's mix but I didn't order anything from them yet. Maybe diverse Rhubarb seed should be on my seed wish list.
Skandi Rogers
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

James Landreth wrote:

It can do well in the shade, so this year most of my new rhubarb plantings were under my old apple trees. I have almost no shade on this property unfortunately. I'm not sure how deep of shade it can take, but mine still gets morning and evening sun



It can take very tight shade, we had some growing under trees in a bog with 0 direct light some dappled light of course. those plants grew 5x better when we moved them into full sun and added manure but they were surviving and producing plenty of leaves in deep shade.
s. lowe
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

A good friend of my is working  on a thesis for an ethnobotany doctorate that focuses on the manioc (Manihot esculenta, cassava, yuca) cultivation practices of a culture in upper Amazonia. What he has told me about these gardeners/farmers is fascinating. They still have a deeply individual relationship with plants and their traditional herbal.medicine practices rely on trained intuition to identify not just the species to proscribe for a certain condition (that decision is governed more.by tradition) but the specific local species population. They are one of the cultures/communities that carries.forward the botany of.the ancient culture that is said to have been given the ayahuasca healing tradition thousands of years ago.

Anything, the interesting thing about their mindset and practices in regards to this thread is that when working with manioc, which is a staple food domesticated from an extant wild population for myriad purposes (my friend estimates that in a US state sized area that houses a couple hundred thousand of these people there are 400+ distinct varieties of manioc used for everything from fresh eating to the preparation of a starchy.flour for flat bread), they religiously maintain a population of wild manioc in proximity to their production plot. He said that the people will regularly go so far as to eliminate all but one population of wild plants near their plot and will sometimes even do.some "rogueing" of that wild population to eliminate traits they know they don't want. I never got a clear understanding from him of how they explain this behavior culturally, but its obvious in the context of this conversation what the value of.that. practice is for.their food.crop seed resilience. Its like a regular injection of trace amounts of the landrace diverse genetics.

Although the behavior also.reveals the silliness of our classifications. Really this behavior creates a broader meta-variety as subcultural elements surely share/influence the selection criteria that's applied.to the local wild populations.
Joseph Lofthouse
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I share Mark Reed's sentiments regarding the phrase "Hybrid Vigor". In my world view "Reducing Inbreeding Depression" would be a more accurate term.

Additionally, I think of the term as a marketing ploy by the seed companies.  The way F1 hybrids are made, is that two different parents are inbred for so many generations that the offspring basically become clones of each other, and they lose vigor. Then when they cross, they regain a portion of the vigor that they would have had if they had not been inbred in the first place. But the hybrid is still not as vigorous nor resilient as a genetically diverse promiscuously pollinating population.
Ellendra Nauriel
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

Thank you Joseph, that helps a lot!
Trace Oswald
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

Mark Reed wrote:If you eliminate inbreeding you get generally stronger, healthier offspring. That's all hybrid vigor means, eliminating inbreeding, it isn't something on it's own.

It's just my own little take on it. Doesn't really mean much in the real world. Kind of like I view cold as a lack of heat or dark as a lack of light.



I guess we just disagree on the semantics of it. I agree with your statements, just not your conclusion 😊   Your examples are my point exactly. The hybrid vigor example is the same to me if you said "I don't believe in cold, it's just lack of heat."  

Either way, I'm looking forward to learning more about plant breeding because my goal is seed self - sufficiency, or at least as close as I can get.
Mark Reed
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

If you eliminate inbreeding you get generally stronger, healthier offspring. That's all hybrid vigor means, eliminating inbreeding, it isn't something on it's own.

It's just my own little take on it. Doesn't really mean much in the real world. Kind of like I view cold as a lack of heat or dark as a lack of light.

As far as landrace plant breeding I think inbreeding can for all practical purposes be eliminated permanently as long as you aren't set on each generation looking exactly the same as the one before. Select for the few traits that really matter and let the rest do as they will.

Would be much harder with animals, cause you have many fewer individuals to work with. I would like to see a mix up between Poodles, Border Collies, Beagles and English Shepard, selecting mostly for the English Shepard behavior in the offspring.  

Trace Oswald
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

Mark Reed wrote:I also don't believe in hybrid vigor, it's nothing more than eliminating genetic depression or inbreeding and the negative effects that result.



Mark, could you explain what you mean by this? I don't know a lot about plant breeding, pretty much nothing actually,  but in dog breeding, eliminating genetic depression from inbreeding to remove it's negative effects is the definition of hybrid vigor. Is it just the term you disagree with, or is there some other stigma attached when that term is applied to plant breeding?
Mark Reed
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

"species lumper", I like that term. It implies my thoughts on the matter, that there is no such thing as varieties, just species. I also don't believe in hybrid vigor, it's nothing more than eliminating genetic depression or inbreeding and the negative effects that result.

I arrived at that little epiphany after reading the book "Seed to Seed". I found that book very depressing at first. All I wanted was to become independent in my gardening, with a big part of that  to stop buying seeds every year.  You have to be diligent on population sizes, isolation distances and all that to keep a variety pure. I nearly gave up on the idea I could save my own seeds till I finally realized preservation of romanticized stories or even cultural norms wasn't my goal anyway.

Why the heck do I care if my cabbage crosses with my kale?  All the better if they do, whatever results from it will still be good to eat and probably easier to grow. The genetic depression is gone, the isolation distance and population size don't matter. I started searching the internet on that idea and finally hit the right search terms to come across the work of folks like Dave Christensen, Joseph Lofthouse, Alan Kaupler and Carol Deppe.  

I treated myself to thirty bucks worth of peanuts this year cause it's fun to try a new species each season but other than that my seeds cost was $0. By today's pricing for seeds I gave away $500 worth or more.

Now that I've also moved into the realm of plant breeding, which I consider somewhat different than landracing, the book "Seed to Seed" is one of the most used in my library, it's full of useful information, everyone should have a copy. I just use it in little different way that it was intended.  
Joseph Lofthouse
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything


As a "species lumper" I would say that arugula is the only know species in it's genus, therefore it is highly unlikely to cross with anything else.
James Landreth
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

Thanks Joseph, that's good to know! The visuals are nice.

Will my arugula cross with anything else?I tried looking it up and it doesn't appear to be related to anything I have in bloom near it (brassicas, turnips, rutabagas)
Joseph Lofthouse
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

My experience is that pollination is a highly-localized event. As long as you weed the Queen Anne's Lace out of your carrot patch and the immediate vicinity, there is very little crossing. Pollination  is quadratic in nature. A plant is 100 times more likely to be pollinated by a plant 1 foot away than it is by a plant 10 feet away.

The huge isolation distances reported in seed growing literature are for robot based agriculture, where there isn't much of a human presence doing quality control. And if you are the only grower for a particular variety of carrot, and you mess it up, you have damaged the reputation of that variety for the whole world forever. It will never recover it's market prominence. If I mess up a carrot in my backyard, I just throw out the few percent that are too fibrous.

For example, here's how the mathematics works out:

With ubiquitous Queen Ann's Lace weeded to a distance of 15 feet from the carrot patch  of 100 plants there is little contribution of pollen from QAL.


One QAL weed growing in the middle of the carrot patch results in a contamination rate of about 1%.
James Landreth
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

Ellendra Nauriel wrote:I'm curious, has anyone tried landracing a crop when there is a constant influx of wild genes into the mix? There are a few things I'd like to save more of my own seed for, but it's not possible to isolate them from their wild relatives. Things like carrots, parsnips, and amaranth are the main ones.




I'm curious too.

I think that in the case of carrots it might not be too bad, since wild carrots are edible I believe. The quality might take a hit though.
Ellendra Nauriel
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I'm curious, has anyone tried landracing a crop when there is a constant influx of wild genes into the mix? There are a few things I'd like to save more of my own seed for, but it's not possible to isolate them from their wild relatives. Things like carrots, parsnips, and amaranth are the main ones.
Nicole Alderman
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

Triton Nomad wrote:
Big leaf maple can in theory give syrup but I tried and it didn't work (not even a trickle of sap).



I was able to tap our Big Leaf Maples twice, but with warming climate, it's hard to manage it here.  You need freezing nights after the leaves have fallen from the tree (this winter, we had lots of freezing nights in November, but the trees weren't dormant), and the days have to be above freezing. And, once the buds are on the trees, the sap stops flowing. And, if you tap when the trees aren't flowing, the tap often seals back up...meaning you have to tap again. The first year we tried it, we got gallons of sap from two maples.....and then the next year we got nothing. And then didn't try again until we had that month of snow in Feb/March last year. We just drilled tiny holes in 6 inch branches on my kid's Tree Fort House and stuck some metal straws in them. We got a few quarts of sap that way (we would have had more if we'd drilled with a big drill, but I was just using our little manual drill and doing quick and easy drilling!)



Here's the posts where we successfully tapped trees on our first year of trying. We haven't managed it since (other than with the straws). https://permies.com/t/33038/Maple-syrup-time#258644

And here's some more pictures of that tapping and the syrup we made. It was yummy! We drank most of the sap in sap form, as boiling it down is a bit of a pain! https://permies.com/wiki/111870/pep-foraging/PEP-BB-foraging-sand-maple#991337
James Landreth
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

Greg Martin wrote:

James Landreth wrote:I've started breeding rhubarb. Our summers are getting hotter and drier, so it's actually hard to get it through now in full sun. I have one that I grew from seed two years ago and I'm saving seed from it and others this year.


James, have you tried for yield in the shade at all?  With those giant leaves I would expect rhubarb to be able to grow in shade, but I'm not sure how they'll do.  I've been collecting varieties to see how they do, but it's early days.  I'm planning to throw all seeds formed in a shady area this year to see how things progress.  I'm always looking for greater yields in the understory.




It can do well in the shade, so this year most of my new rhubarb plantings were under my old apple trees. I have almost no shade on this property unfortunately. I'm not sure how deep of shade it can take, but mine still gets morning and evening sun
Greg Martin
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

James Landreth wrote:I've started breeding rhubarb. Our summers are getting hotter and drier, so it's actually hard to get it through now in full sun. I have one that I grew from seed two years ago and I'm saving seed from it and others this year.


James, have you tried for yield in the shade at all?  With those giant leaves I would expect rhubarb to be able to grow in shade, but I'm not sure how they'll do.  I've been collecting varieties to see how they do, but it's early days.  I'm planning to throw all seeds formed in a shady area this year to see how things progress.  I'm always looking for greater yields in the understory.
James Landreth
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I've started breeding rhubarb. Our summers are getting hotter and drier, so it's actually hard to get it through now in full sun. I have one that I grew from seed two years ago and I'm saving seed from it and others this year.
Myron Platte
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

This is so exciting! I’ve been wanting to do this stuff my whole life! I’m finally getting a chance this year. I’m going to save seed on everything, and I also want to get into chicken breeding. I want birds that will be their own primary defense from predators, lay year round, raise chick reliably, and forage well. I’m thinking that I’ll use some kind of Asils and Freedom Rangers, as well as perhaps Jersey Giants. I’m hoping that aggressiveness and sheer size will make them difficult targets for predators, but of course, natural selection will be the primary decision maker for how these birds end up.
Francis Mallet
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

James Landreth wrote:
I’d like to thank Joseph Lofthouse for introducing the concept of landrace genetics to me, and for your thoughts on seed saving and practical practices, both in the thread below and in general over the years.



Same here. Joseph Lofthouse's writing has been most influential on my way of thinking. The idea of landrace has had a profound impact in my life. Before I would see produce on shelves as products just like light bulbs, phone cases, etc. You know, "stuff". The idea that landraces would adapt not only to their location but to me and all my quirks was a powerful epiphany. The squash I harvested is no longer inanimate. I'm no longer alone in my garden, as if I was outside of life. We are partners now, connected, growing and adapting together. This realization has brought me incredible peace of mind. Thank you for showing me the way Joseph :)
Trace Oswald
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I'm working on two "landrace" dog types. Types because they are of course mixed breeds. Outcrossing dogs is extremely important, and hybrid vigor is what I'm shooting for. One type is a LGD, the other a mastiff - based personal protection dog. I'm not willing to share them with the public yet, but stay tuned.
William Schlegel
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I would suggest first that this is one agricultural solution to not just this crises but to agricultural sustainability issues in general that permaculture hopes to address.

I stick to plant breeding for the present because I don't have the ability to take care of animals right now.

In applying this concept broadly I think it's important to point out that there are additional sources of information on it.

The written works of Gary Paul Nabhan really got me interested in the historical landraces that existed and still exist. Important to that is that some land races interact with wild crop relative or wild animal populations in a continuous and sometimes bilateral flow of genes. Human and domestic crop / animal populations exist in a coevolutionary state and domestication naturally increases genetic and particularly phenotypic variation. Gary tends to write books of shorter stories and one of them about turkeys is very interesting. Most turkeys went to Europe and came back, a very important distinction that bottlenecked them genetically. If you are working with turkeys I would encourage you to find and read that Gary Paul Nabhan story.

https://www.garynabhan.com/books/

Many inbred breeds are what is left of historic land races after they have been stripped of much phenotypic variation by modern breeders. Some modern breeds remain historic landraces. For instance there is landrace level variation in border collies which are descended from reindeer herding dogs that became sheep herding dogs ranging in size from 25 to 55 lbs highly useful for farms of varying sizes to have. Their inclusion in the AKC was fiercely contested because the creation of a strict breed standard ends landraces level variation.

However, when we combine two or more inbred breeds a lot of diversity is produced especially in the second generation!

A few modern breeds are essentially modern landraces. Beefalo cattle would be one example. Any breed of cattle could/can be used for the creation of bison hybrids. That means that all cattle diversity and a wild relative are used.

Modern land races are different than historical. For one thing we tend to have access to more populations and many are launched using a very large number of founding populations. Though this may not be necessary. Two very different inbreds are adequate to produce a diverse population.

In plant breeding we also have the term Grex to describe a diverse breeding population. Joseph uses this term to describe populations that he considers unfinished in terms of breeding work.

A number of readily available papers have been written about a similar concept internationally called Evolutionary Plant Breeding.

https://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/stuffed-or-starved-evolutionary-plant-breeding-might-have-the-answer/

Of course as you've pointed out plant breeding concepts are translatable to animals.

One thing interesting about Joseph Lofthouse's process is that he applies selection using a good knowledge of the principle of descent and of modern plant breeding while retaining much variation. His squash tend to be selected for deep orange flesh. He tastes every fruit he saves seed from. I've both purchased seed from Joseph and built my own populations both before and after buying seed from him. I added his Maxima squash seed to my existing Maxima population. Joseph's Maxima squash is better! I really liked the Rio Lucio landrace squash I got from Native Seed Search. Then I got some Hidatsa squash seed from Baker Creek. Even better! The two crossed- cool! Then I got Joseph's maxima. Even better! So the combination of all three actually is a little bit less than Josephs. Which means that those squash with a bit more of Joseph's genetics are the best tasting and I'm essentially just drifting towards reselecting for Joseph's deep orange flesh preference because after tasting it I agree that it's better!

I plan to keep saving seed of my own grexes but given that I live only a days drive north of Joseph in the same rocky Mountain ecoregion and garden on similar soils I can also simply grow Joseph's work which means I don't have to start from scratch.

With seeds I can also have the best of both worlds by growing out a pure seed crop of a Lofthouse's strain say every other year and using some of that seed to increase the Lofthouse's proportion of my own Grex in alternate years. If useful for the addition of some trait.

So when thinking about developing new landraces be they turkeys or cabbages we need to think a little about continuity or we will all be continuously recreating landraces from breeds and varieties which represents at least three generations of those populations. You could create a registry and try to establish a new "breed" for your landrace. The flip side of that is that modern composite breeds of livestock are difficult to keep going because anyone can cross breed and start their own without paying to register. I notice around here on Craigslist that it isn't hard to find crossbred animals. Like a Shetland / Icelandic cross sheep. They tend if anything to be more affordable than purebreds. So if we just tie into existing crossbreeding that is great, but it isn't landrace breeding or evolutionary breeding. It's just recognizing the benefits of hybrid vigour. Which is what beef breeders do. They tend to crossbreed using a bull from a purebred breeder and crossbred cows. Sometimes they use a bull they breed themselves if unrelated. Periodically they switch breeds on the Bulls to keep the hybrid vigour up. That's why we can get all kinds of livestock crosses usually on Craigslist. Lots of people have always recognized that when not breeding for showing at a fair or for producing fancy registered animals that crossbreeds are very useful. So how do we proceed?

I would suggest selling our crossbred seed or livestock on Craigslist or here on permies.com etc. Hanging a name on it as appropriate, but not necessarily creating breed registries as such. Maybe explain what it is you are offering in your advertising.
James Landreth
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

Dan Boone wrote:That all makes perfect sense.

On a much smaller scale, I paid a lot of attention this year when I went deeply through my seeds bin.  Given the difficulty of sourcing seeds online, I would anyway have been planting more saved seeds.  But this year I am planting a whole lot of things (perhaps just one or two plants) where my freshest saved seed is four or five years old, with the express notion of saving the seed from it.  In most case this isn't a diverse-genetics landrace situation, I'm just exercising one generation of gardener-preference selection from a very small sample.  I plan to save seeds a lot more comprehensively and in greater volumes.  This won't be the last crisis that puts pressure on food and distribution systems, and having more seed to use and share seems like a good strategy to me.




This sounds like a step in the right direction. It's pretty much the same boat I'm in seedwise.  I think these steps lay the foundation to go even deeper next year
James Landreth
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

Triton Nomad wrote:I am impressed by what you are doing and as a relatively close neighbor I am willing to put my money where my mouth is.
I have also planted trees from seeds but I am slower with the chicken and bees.
One thing that you did not mention is grafting local trees - I have a lot of local cherries (black cherry) that I am planning to try grafting with orchard cherries.
Big leaf maple can in theory give syrup but I tried and it didn't work (not even a trickle of sap).

Do you know any other local native trees that can be used?



It's a good question.


Pacific crabapple can be a great rootstock especially on sites too wet for other apples. I believe my friend and fellow staff member John S. uses winter banana apple as an integraft.

Native hawthorn is good for pear, quince,  medlar, and Chinese hawthorn.  I've heard of pears grafted onto aronia and serviceberry. I too have native cherry seedlings--just know that without aggressive pruning the tree will be huge. I also dig up rootstock suckers and seedlings from trees that reseed themselves,  like Italian plum.  All are excellent rootstock and some will make decent fruit.
Triton Nomad
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I am impressed by what you are doing and as a relatively close neighbor I am willing to put my money where my mouth is.
I have also planted trees from seeds but I am slower with the chicken and bees.
One thing that you did not mention is grafting local trees - I have a lot of local cherries (black cherry) that I am planning to try grafting with orchard cherries.
Big leaf maple can in theory give syrup but I tried and it didn't work (not even a trickle of sap).

Do you know any other local native trees that can be used?

Joseph Lofthouse
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything


James: Thanks. This growing season marks the 10th anniversary of my decision to landrace everything. What a great catchphrase you have provided for me:

Dan Boone
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

That all makes perfect sense.

On a much smaller scale, I paid a lot of attention this year when I went deeply through my seeds bin.  Given the difficulty of sourcing seeds online, I would anyway have been planting more saved seeds.  But this year I am planting a whole lot of things (perhaps just one or two plants) where my freshest saved seed is four or five years old, with the express notion of saving the seed from it.  In most case this isn't a diverse-genetics landrace situation, I'm just exercising one generation of gardener-preference selection from a very small sample.  I plan to save seeds a lot more comprehensively and in greater volumes.  This won't be the last crisis that puts pressure on food and distribution systems, and having more seed to use and share seems like a good strategy to me.
James Landreth
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

In all fairness, what I'm describing here was the default state of the world and its agricultural practices until recently. I hope my thoughts are coherent. I didn't have the spoons to write carefully and edit
James Landreth
Post     Subject: One Solution to the Crisis: Landrace Everything

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a while, but I’ve been a bit busy.

These last few months have been tumultuous for me and my community. We went from networking across this half of the state, and western Oregon, to suddenly having our supplies and in person cooperation vastly reduced by COVID19. We used to think nothing of buying and selling across the rural counties and even all the way into cities like Portland and Seattle. Now, of course, this is inadvisable and dangerous.

It’s been a tough ride. I know that this is what we’re supposed to be preparing for, but it is easier said than done and hindsight is always 20/20 on the details.

One thing that is alarmingly clear to me is that “permaculture” people in my area, including me, have been way too dependent on outside suppliers for all sorts of things: Trees, seeds, bees, livestock, etc. Not only are these suppliers overwhelmed and sometimes shut down, but on further inspection, a lot of their genetics can only survive with a fairly high degree of inputs. Even regional suppliers aren’t necessarily suited to my county, or valley.

So, I’ve been shifting to re-organizing my local community to work rapidly towards ramping up our landrace breeding and production. Thankfully, there is a little foundation and precedence for it, though as I mentioned not as much as there should have been. I’ve begun growing trees from seed from trees in my landscape that have done well. If the resulting fruit is trash, I’ll just graft it.

I’ve also begun making log hives the past two years, and getting them out to people who will then allow honey bees to naturally select for stronger genetics. I and other farmers have gotten serious about hatching local eggs from mixed backyard flocks. I’m involved now with landracing chickens, ducks, and turkeys. I may get back into geese next year. I’ve terminated working with any poultry that won’t hatch and raise their own young. Getting incubators has been hard with shipping networks clogged, and the ones that we have gotten have been defective or not lasted long.

I think that if we all do these, we will have a better chance.

I’d like to thank Joseph Lofthouse for introducing the concept of landrace genetics to me, and for your thoughts on seed saving and practical practices, both in the thread below and in general over the years.


Related thread:
https://permies.com/t/137741/Thoughts-Seed-Saving-Joseph-Lofthouse