Landrace Gardening by Joseph Lofthouse: A Book Review



Corn varieties, photo by Joseph Lofthouse

My heart and soul belong to the hills—in order to escape the civilized shackles of my past, I will focus on listening even more closely to the voices in my garden. This is my new mantra—though many would say it’s merely new wording to my way of being.

Perhaps his sharing of the parable of the hill people very early in Joseph’s book foreshadowed how closely and deeply his dedication to landrace gardening was going to affect me. It’s also very likely to further shift my gardening play. I deeply thank Mr. Lofthouse for lending credence to the wisdom I already sensed and sometimes intuitively followed.

The full title of Mr. Lofthouse’s book is Landrace Gardening—Food Security through Biodiversity and Promiscuous Pollination. As defined in the book, landrace is “A locally-adapted, genetically-diverse, promiscuously-pollinating food crop. Landraces are intimately connected to the land, ecosystem, farmer, and community. Landraces offer food security through their ability to adapt to changing conditions.” In short, by gardening (or farming) extremely locally we are more able to work in tandem with nature and proactively create thriving ecosystems with highly productive plants.

While Lofthouse’s motivation comes from his short, harsh growing cycles, I found plenty of connection with his practices and outcomes. I love the playful nature he displays when wondering if breeding for a fuzzy surface to his vegetables will deter deer or insects. It’s inspiring to read about Joe’s experimentation. Among many other things, he achieved advancement in frost-tolerant beans and garden-clean tomatoes in his gardens.

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