Landrace Seeds

Landrace Gardening, developing seeds adapted to your garden.

Landrace seeds come from a domesticated variety of plant that has, over time, adapted to local growing conditions. Landrace seeds are from open pollinated plants of diverse genetics and produce stable yields under the growing conditions they have adapted to over time.  Since landrace seeds come from diverse genetics, they can also adapt to changing conditions.

Joseph Lofthouse's Adaptivar Landrace webpage explains this well: "An adaptivar landrace is a foodcrop containing lots of genetic diversity which tends to produce stable yields under marginal growing conditions. Landrace crops are adaptively selected via survival-of-the-fittest for reliability in tough conditions. The arrival of new pests, new diseases, or changes in cultural practices or in the environment may harm some individuals in a landrace population, but with so much diversity many plants are likely to do well under the changing conditions."

"Race" in the term landrace is referring to the use of the word race in biology.  For example, "human race," not running a race, even though a landrace is developed by survival of the fittest.  Landrace also applies to animals as well as plants.

I live in Northern Minnesota, and I have tried to raise honeybees.  The winters here are long and cold, so the bees need 60 lbs. or more of honey to stay warm through the winter.  That is more then $150 worth of honey, so the "economical" way to raise bees here is to kill them in the fall and buy new bees in the spring.

I couldn't kill my bees.  The first year, I took 6 quarts of honey from the two hives I had and left the rest for them.  I spent $600 on equipment and bees that first year, so my wife teased me that my honey cost $100 a quart.  My bees barely made it through the winter, and I had to feed them sugar water in the spring so they would not die before the dandelions bloomed. They struggled most of the summer, and when I thought they might be able to save enough honey to make it through another winter, a bear came and destroyed my hives.

There are several other kinds of bees here that pollinate my garden and the flowers in the yard, and they make it through the winter without my help.  Why do the honeybees struggle so, even with my help?

This last summer my son started talking about Mr. Lofthouse's website and landrace gardening.  I had never heard of the terms landrace, or landrace crops before, but that is exactly what I want to try with honeybees.  I want to develop landrace honeybees that can over winter in Northern Minnesota.  My ultimate goal is to develop a landrace of honeybees that can survive without interference from me.

Honeybee species that we have here in the US are so domesticated that they cannot survive well on their own anymore.  Even the managed honeybees are dying at an unprecedented rate.  I want to develop a landrace honeybee that is adapted to Northern Minnesota.  I think that if they can survive here they can thrive elsewhere in the US.

Garden Seeds blog post about landrace seeds.

Handful of Finger Print Fava Beans
Finger Print Fava Beans

honey bee, apricot, cappadocia
Honey bee pollinating apricot blossoms

Here are links to some articles Mr. Lofthouse wrote for Mother Earth News about landrace gardening.

Landrace Gardening: 2014 Progress Report

The methods of landrace gardening can provide food, even when social or family troubles take us away from the garden.

A pragmatic approach to eliminating male sterility from a home garden. Includes a diagram and photos about what to look for.
Cell Fusion genetic engineering is emerging as a hot topic in the Certified Organic seed and food industry. We can expect the resolution of this issue to impact both small-scale and large-scale growers.
Creating a landrace of promiscuously pollinated tomatoes. Details about my major plant breeding project for the next few seasons and a plea for help.
Grow enough seed for yourself and a little extra for seed swaps and you may never have to pay for seeds again.
The principles of landrace gardening can be applied at any scale from small annual gardens to multi-generational community wide tree farms.
Sunroots are a typically-cloned crop with great potential as a locally-adapted survival-of-the-fittest landrace
Exploring my hopes and dreams for the landrace seed movement with suggestions about how farmers, merchants, and gardeners could cooperate to create a more robust, secure, and locally adapted food system.
A photo essay documenting imported landraces that I started incorporating into my existing landraces during the current growing season.
A photo essay showing off the beauty of landrace squash.
A photo essay showing off the beauty of landrace crops.
How to use hybrids in a landrace garden.
How to adjust the moisture of homegrown popcorn so that it pops well.
Joseph Lofthouse shares tips for growing landrace popcorn.
Landrace gardening allows us to minimize fertilization by selecting for plants that thrive in the pre-existing soil.
Joseph Lofthouse shares how to maintain thriving populations of landrace vegetables in the garden.
Seed saving is an integral part of landrace gardening.
By growing potatoes from pollinated seeds we can develop locally adapted plants that thrive in our gardens.
Landrace gardening enhances food security by growing genetically diverse crops that are not as prone to crop failure as monoculture fields of near clones.
By applying the principles of landrace gardening, you can help your plants win the race against weeds.
Using landrace gardening and promiscuous pollination to get what you want from your garden.
Landrace gardening promotes hybrid vigor and avoids inbreeding depression by encouraging promiscuous pollination.
Landrace gardening requires different plant naming conventions than those followed by industrialized agriculture.
A photo essay showing off the stunning success of landrace gardening on my farm. This success was achieved because I changed my growing methods to embrace one of the key elements of landrace growing; “survival of the fittest."
Landrace Gardening: Localize Your Garden For a Better Harvest

Joseph Lofthouse, seedsman from Paradise Utah, is now blogging about “Landrace Gardening” on Mother Earth News. The blog is a practical hands-on manual about how to improve crop production by localizing your plants to your unique garden.

Different heirloom and landrace varieties of fava beans
Fava Bean Varieties