Joseph Lofthouse

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since Dec 16, 2014
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Joseph Lofthouse currently moderates these forums:

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

I used a small 120V (plug into the grid) chainsaw for years. It was wonderful to use around the house, and farm, as long as it was within reach of an electric outlet. It was lightweight, so I did lightweight tasks with it: Cleanup after windstorms, fruit-tree pruning, weeding, etc. It started every time, the first time, and didn't poison me with noxious fumes or questionable additives. For larger tasks, I used larger non-electric tools. I don't remember cutting  through the electrical chord, but it was an extra safety worry that isn't present in gas-powered models. And the chord can get caught up on things.

5 days ago

Of the things suggested so far, I'd be interested in taking:

Machete: Wonderful tool for all kinds of tasks, like cutting, digging, chopping, construction, harvesting, hunting...  

Stainless Steel Pot: A lovely tool for outdoor living. I'd hope for a lid to go with it as a small critter-proof container. I toyed with asking for a dutch oven, but I like the lower weight of stainless, and stainless is easier to maintain in the boonies.

I'd also ask for:

Large Diameter Magnifying Glass: Used as a non-perishable fire-starting tool. A magnifying glass isn't ruined by getting wet. It's doesn't wear away by being used. In my experience, a magnifying glass has been the easiest method of primitive fire-starting, especially when a piece of charcoal is used as the tinder.  It only works during daylight hours on sunny days, which is the time I'd least want a fire. Coal banking has been known for aeons, so there's no reason I couldn't learn to practice it. When we heated with wood, I used to get up each morning, and kindle a new fire from the previous night's embers.

6 days ago

It's curious to me, that as we age, we learn that food habits that were taught to us by our ancestors and society are detrimental to us as humans, and yet generation after generation, we continue teaching those habits to our children and grandchildren.

Even though I believe that many of my family and friends have terrible eating habits that are sending them to early graves, I keep my mouth shut. Not my place to be telling other people how to live. If they ask, then I bluntly tell them my beliefs. They rarely ask.

6 days ago
Graphite is a great lubricant that doesn't attract dust.

Rust in the desert is often only a cosmetic issue. If it bothers you, stainless steel tools are available.

Steel handled tools don't get dehydrated nor UV etched.

I really like fiberglass handles, but they are not as strong as wood/steel, and can be subject to degradation by sunlight.

6 days ago

As a lifelong carpenter and farmer, gloves would not be on my list of essential items.

It is very possible to do immense amounts of hard labor without gloves. The way to avoid blisters, is to not make twisting/shearing motions against the skin. And to pay attention to one's body, both how it feels, and how it's moving.  It's very possible to keep hands warm without gloves.

Gloves are a perishable item. I would only be choosing durable items to take to the island with me.

1 week ago

Kim Goodwin wrote:I do agree, we just don't have any materials to bring in at this point.

At my place, if I make a scratch on the surface of the soil, then dirt/clay/sand will collect in it during every rainstorm. Building swales then, is a matter of scooping that fresh/loose/fine dirt up onto the swale. Slow and steady wins the race.

All those loose rocks laying on the surface would make wonderful swells. The rains will fill in the cracks between them with debris.
1 week ago

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Wow, Joseph, throwing some shade, I thought you were such a gentle soul!  

Surviving  a passage through the shadow world is a great way to develop compassion and gentleness.

I've learned that it's best to not sit on the chopping block. A few weeks ago, someone wrote to ask me to be an advocate for tilling in an article they were writing. I'm like, "Nope, that's like being an advocate for meat eating on a vegan site.".
1 week ago

A technique that I have found very useful, is to leave the existing ground as is, and build swales, etc with materials that are dragged in from elsewhere. When I'm digging swales, elsewhere might only be 3 to 5 feet. I find it much easier to move small/loose material that to try to remove the big stuff.

1 week ago

Mick Fisch wrote:Although the greens are too tough for humans later in the season, I'm guessing for livestock it might make good fodder.

Horses won't touch curly dock in my area.
1 week ago