Joseph Lofthouse

author & steward
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since Dec 16, 2014
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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!
For More
Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Recent posts by Joseph Lofthouse

I put around 100 onion seeds in a 3" pot in about January. Four 4 months before last spring frost, and transplant them into the garden after the snow melts mid-March, still 2 months before the end of spring frosts.

I don't notice transplant shock with onions.
6 days ago
Delightful that you grow them from seed. That makes it inexpensive to grow many saplings. Easy to select for permanent resistance to the borers. Spending a couple of years now, to select for the right genetics, may avoid a lifetime of anguish.

Are the saplings mechanically weak from having been grown in pots, or in an area with insufficient light, or lack of wind? You might try direct seeding in their permanent location. Perhaps planting 20 per location, and thinning to the one you like the best, with the most resistence to the borers.
1 week ago
Fava transplants are easy to grow. They transplant well. They get an earlier start on the growing season. An early start is critical for me, because once the weather turns hot, the flowers don't set seed in my garden.

I like setting out plants that are 3 to 6 weeks old.
1 week ago
My strategy is to welcome pests and diseases into my garden. They help to select for trees that grow well in the presence of pests and diseases. I feel like the bugs do a kindness to me, by eliminating trees that are genetically weak.

I don't feel inclined to spend the funds, labor, or worry necessary to purchase products and apply them to my trees. Cause if I'm growing weak trees, then I'm setting myself up for a lifetime of expense to apply the protections over and over again as the tree outgrows them.

1 week ago
For the past 15 years, I worked to develop a network to create, preserve, and share genetically-diverse landrace varieties. The huge project exceeded my abilities. After publishing my book, a group of collaborators joined me in the endeavor.

The collaborators help me to refine my ideas. They challenge me to be consistent in how I talk about landraces, and the associated political and social issues.  They invite me to apply the principles of landrace gardening to all of my growing and social interactions.  They take care of technical, financial, social, and administrative tasks that immobilize me. Their neurodiversity and compassion help us work through difficult issues with grace and goodwill.

I feel honored to announce that a non-profit organization, Going To Seed,  has been organized to continue this work.

Our video and text-based courses cover the importance of genetic diversity, cross-pollination and breeding basics, seed selection and saving.

The community provides a place for your knowledge to be ​cross-pollinated, evolved, and applied. Gain insights, share ideas, troubleshoot your issues, and receive feedback.

Genetically diverse seed mixes, curated by our members, help you get started breeding your own locally adapted crops.

Join our mailing list
We're just getting started, and there are lots of exciting things coming from Going to Seed. Sign up to receive updates about new programs, courses, and seed availability.
1 week ago
My favorite inoculation method is to put this year's fruits into a blender with water to make a slurry. The slurry is then dumped on to suitable habitats. That is both cloning the original fruit, and distributing new spores to keep the culture from stagnating.

2 weeks ago
I appeared in the Grow Your Grass Off podcast.
2 weeks ago
With my own eyes, I haven't seen a "bad" plant. I haven't observed a plant damaging an ecosystem. Regardless of labels that people give to things, I haven't observed what I would call an "invasive" plant. I watch the ecosystem carefully.

By pure observation, I am not able to determine which species have lived in the local wildlands for ten years, 100 years,  530 years, or 10,000 years. All plants, that I observe with my own eyes, provide ecosystem services: food, shelter, shade, oxygen, etc. I can't tell any difference between long-time residents, and new arrivals.

Ten thousand years ago, Canada, and much of the usa was covered with glaciers. Every plant growing in those areas are non-native. My farm was covered in hundreds of feet of water at that time, thus all plants in my area are likewise non-native.

I welcome all life to my farm, and the surrounding wildlands. My definition of native is everything that is currently growing in the wildlands near my community.

3 weeks ago
Today's podcast appearance features an interview with the amazing Ben Cohen.

It's also on youtube.

It's also on all the platforms: Spotify, Apple, Google etc
3 weeks ago
Alfalfa grows wild all over the badlands surrounding my community. How it got there one can only guess.
3 weeks ago