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Joseph adopted the principles landrace gardening in response to the harsh growing conditions in a high-altitude, short-season, desert garden. Instead of relying on expensive poisons, labor, and materials to coddle the plants, he encourages genetic diversity, cross-pollination, and survival of the fittest, allowing the plants to adapt themselves to the current and ever-changing ecosystem, thus simplifying gardening and seed saving. Joseph is the author of Landrace Gardening: Food Security Through Biodiversity and Promiscuous Pollination.
Joseph loves eating, farming, swimming, hot-springs, sunbathing, bird-watching, running, yoga, leggings, kilts, playing guitar, singing, and living habitually barefoot.
Joseph Lofthouse learned seed keeping from his grandfather and father, on a sixth-generation family farm.
He worked as a chemist, before melting down due to the ethical dilemmas. He sought refuge in a monastery, taking a vow of poverty, before returning to farming in his home village.
He grew market vegetables for three years then transitioned to seed keeping, landrace development, speaking, and writing.
Due to the harsh growing conditions in the Great Basin desert in the Rocky Mountains, Joseph wasn't able to reliably grow many kinds of crops. When he originally started saving seeds, he kept meticulous records, a residual trait from 20 years of working in an analytical chemistry lab. He was super-careful about purity, isolation distances, and number of parents. In other words, he was doing all the hard things that the seed saving books recommend. One day, he realized that he was spending more time keeping records than actually growing food. The record-keeping stopped that day. Landrace gardening teaches that plants are stronger, tastier, and more reliable if impure parents are cross-pollinating and undergoing survival of the fittest selection. An heirloom is a variety that was developed long ago, on a far away farm, and has undergone 50 years of inbreeding. Landraces are locally-adapted to current conditions, and have enough genetic diversity to change with the ecosystem.
Joseph Lofthouse taught landrace gardening at conferences hosted by the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, National Heirloom Expo, Organic Seed Alliance, Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA-NY), Utah Farm & Food Conference, and Baker Creek Tulip Festival. He serves as World Tomato Society ambassador.
Joseph is a certified yoga instructor. He loves bhakti, tantra, and Earth yoga. Bhakti yoga is about singing, dancing, and devoting one's life to a divine purpose. Tantra yoga is about acknowledging the divinity in everyone, and everything. Tasting one's food. Feeling the air, the water, the mud, and the sunlight. Yoga is traditionally practiced barefoot. Joseph lives habitually barefoot, because everything he does is part of his practice of Earth yoga: encompassing the farm, the ecosystem, and humanity into one great whole.
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