Joseph Lofthouse, Landrace Gardener – Biographies – MOTHER EARTH NEWS

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Joseph Lofthouse, Landrace Gardener

Location of Farm: Paradise, Utah

Background and Personal History: Joseph feeds his family and community by growing fruits and vegetables. He feeds them better by developing landrace plant varieties that thrive in spite of the difficulty of  growing in a cold mountain valley. A landrace is a crop  with considerable genetic variability which has become attached to a place by growing in it for long enough to become acclimatized to the conditions that make that place unique: The climate, bugs, soil, water, grower, diseases, etc.

Current Projects: Joseph’s favorite current project is creating a landrace of garlic that reproduces via pollinated seeds. The first season his garden produced 4 pollinated seeds using commercially available garlic. He considered that a smashing achievement, and so he imported garlic from the Tian-Shan Mountains in central Asia . The Asian garlics have retained a better  ability to produce seeds. Joseph does not like growing clones, because they cannot adapt much to the conditions that make his garden unique. He figures that if he can grow enough unique garlic from pollinated seeds, eventually some of them will really thrive.

Joseph is constantly working on developing genetically-diverse locally-adapted landraces for whatever crops he can coax to grow in the cold. Okra still eludes him. He has had spectacular success with corn, cantaloupe, watermelon, and spinach.  He recently acquired a South American corn which contains 10 times the carotenes of  yellow sweet corn. He is working on incorporating that enhanced nutrition trait into his corn populations. It pops up very yellow!

Other Fun Facts: Joseph grew up gardening and milking the cow on the farm that was first established by his grandfather’s grandfather, who developed a strain of wheat specifically for their farm. Joseph is still growing the wheat. It was the most widely planted wheat in northern Utah and southern Idaho before the green revolution. Joseph’s first spring crop is the onions which were grown by his great-grandfather. Joseph’s fields are located in the same village today.

More Places to Find Joseph on the Web:

Joseph’s Posts on Mother Earth News

My web site:

My photo archives: JosephsGarden
on PhotoBucket

My favorite plant breeding forum:

What I’m taking to the Farmer’s Market: