Seed Libraries Newsletter
Cool Beans!
March 2022| Issue #27
How can we create seed that enriches our community, provides more resilience, and broadens diversity? Landraces!

Historically communities had landrace varieties of locally adapted plants and animals. These were developed over time as people selected for things that they liked and that supported them and their communities. The plants adapted to the natural environment and the cultural preferences of the people who stewared them. However, with the advent of "modern agriculture", there has been a focus on uniformity, something that isn't found in nature. As a result, much of this diversity was bred out of the plants. Making these plants more "marketable" has also made our food supply more susceptible to disease and crop failures.

We are now in a bottleneck of genetic diversity. Combine this with climate change and that much of our food is being grown by a large companies who plant few varieties. We are at a critical juncture. That's where you, your community, and your seed library can make an important contribution to the wellness, joy, and resilience of your community, and be of benefit to the broader community too.

Fall in love with a plant? Work with it. Play with it. Talk to it. Learn about how to develop modern landraces.

Joseph Lofthouse, a farmer and seed steward, is working on developing what he called modern landraces. According to Lofthouse, "landrace growing is an intimate relationship between a location, a farmer, and a population of genetically-diverse seed. 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 farmer choice and 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 plants in a landrace population, but with so much diversity many plants are likely to do well under the changing conditions.
In the case of mostly self-pollinating plants like peppers, tomatoes, beans, wheat, and peas a landrace may be thought of as many distinct varieties growing side by side.

In the case of out-crossing plants like cantaloupe, squash, or corn, a landrace can be thought of as an open pollinated population with tremendous genetic diversity. Most of the seeds in an out-crossing landrace end up being unique F1 hybrids."
Learn More
1. Book: Buy Lofthouse's Landrace Gardening book.
2. Class: Take Lofthouse's online Modern Landraces class. Sign up for annual access to all of his classes, monthly Zoom calls, and online community forum.

3. Seed Libraries' Landrace Conversations Group: Online first Thursdays of the month.

Thursday, April 7th 4:30-5:30 PM PST
Thursday, May 5th 4:30-5:30 PM PST
Thursday, June 2nd 4:30-5:30 PM PST
Thursday, July 7th 4:30-5:30 PM PST

To join, email We'll send you the Zoom calendar invite.
Lettuce Talks!
Are you doing any plant breeding? landraces?
Join the conversation at Up Beets! our online forum.
Collectively we have the wisdom and solutions to steward local seeds and create more resilient communities. UpBeet! is a place for you to ask questions and share your solutions and challenges.

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This month we are focusing on landraces and breeding. Here are some questions to consider, but feel free to pose questions to the other seed librarians. Post your responses on UpBeet! and use #landraces or #breeding.

New to plant breeding? Carol Deppe's Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties is invaluable!
Banner photo: Midnight Bean Harvest, Joseph Lofthouse