Alfred Reed Bishop and Doris William Butler

The picture above is the very tap root of Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed. My grandparents shortly after moving to Pekin Indiana from Greensburg KY in 1947 where they purchased the farm that is now Bishop's Homegrown. This picture was taken in Pekin in front of the old co-op next to the old railroad depot, neither of which exist today.

Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wake up America!

Your local farmer, produce suppliers, and mom and pop stores need you more than ever, and chances are your going to need them!

A call to end “Big Box” mentality in America!
Written by: Alan Reed Bishop of Bishop's Homegrown and Hip-Gnosis seed development.
February 28, 2008

Hey America, it’s time to wake up! Your dollar value is dropping, your waists are expanding and you’re a generally unhappy bunch of folks from what I have seen. And that my friend is from the mouth of an American himself. Alan Reed Bishop.

I’m not here to berate anyone, surely what I’m about to say even applies to myself and I’ve got a lot to learn so that I too don’t sound like a hypocrite. What I’m here to say is something that probably won’t set so well with many blue collard American folks, but it is the truth. A hard truth that if not faced will bare the consequences of an even more uncertain future.

What I’m here to ask, is just exactly how long will it take the fact that we are destroying our own culture, food supply, and future by shopping at the corporate owned big box stores, to set in? You may not realize it, but every time you drive to your local Wal-Mart, Meijers, K-mart, Home Depot or whatever and drop one of those dirty dollars on the counter, you are further eroding the very culture and substance of the American way of life. How many news reports about poisonous toys and unsafe food do you have to hear before you get it? It seems so obvious. Many of you may think that loosing the mom and pop owned five and dimes is of little consequence to your bread and butter, but look what happened to their bread and butter when you took your dollar elsewhere, and guess what, other consumers suffer due to your bad decisions as well, being forced to pay higher prices for lower quality products and food. A damn shame if I do say so myself.

In my profession I’ve seen it time and again. The local produce business can be quite fickle at times, particularly when it comes to un-informed customers. Now, don’t get me wrong, people will have to eat regardless, and I will be able to stay in this business on that fact alone, however the hurt is really being put on the local farmers and co-ops by the Wall-Marts and Jay-C-Food stores of the world and their supposedly “organic” produce, and perhaps more importantly, you the consumer are feeling the burn as well. Prices on organic food keep on sky-rocketing while quality keeps sinking. Perhaps you believe that the much coveted “organic” label actually means something to the big companies who use different names to market “organic“ versions of their products? If so, you‘d be dead wrong. You see, the USDA and the Corporations of the world don‘t care about what the word “organic“ means as long as it equals money in the pocket. That‘s why there are 35 non-organic substances allowed in the production of USDA “Certified Organic“ food production. Thirty five substances which may or may not be any better for you than conventional products. Thirty Five substances which may or may not have been outlawed in other countries around the world due to their links with rates of cancer and environmental damage. Thirty five substances that mono-culture farms half the world away and in your own backyards would rather you never know about.

I’m not here to bash “Organic farming” at all, as a matter of fact I consider myself to be an Organic farmer in the truest sense of the word. In that my produce and products are produced and protected using only the most natural of methods and minus gas to local venues and diesel for my tractor, my carbon foot print on this farm is pretty small. The USDA, big box stores, and corporate agriculture however don’t see “Organic” in this way, as a matter of fact their measure of the word “Organic” would be much easier summed up in monetarily inspired numbers. As anybody knows, self sustainable, nutritious, and organic food is right up my alley and I try my hardest everyday of my life to further improve my systems of delivery, production, and self sustainability in an attempt to treat the earth and it’s inhabitants with the utmost respect and dignity while also providing a premium product LOCALLY, and therein lies the problem.

You see, when you walk into Wall-Mart and see those big blue organic labels, your looking at a lie. Your looking at a money grubbing scheme to both take your money for a sub-par product, run local farmers out of business, and further erode the meaning of the “organic” label, while at the same time making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside because you just bought something “organic”. So, what’s the problem with that organic food? Well there are a lot of problems with it. Much of that “organic” food comes from other counties around the world, particularly third world countries where “organic” standards are much less observed and regulated. Another problem is that there are several organically approved, yet none the less dangerous chemicals that are allowed to pass as suitable for “organic” production systems and in the preparation and processing of those foods, mostly because the USDA Organic law is catered to large mono-culture farms. And last but not least, most of the “organic” food that your buying on those nasty, dollar inflated Wall-Mart shelves that is actually grown in the USA is grown by large corporate farms, owned by multi-million dollar companies that you already know well by their more common brand names, in systems that would make a septic sludge pond look organic, by folks who have little to no respect for local farmers and business and the local economy,environmental concerns and health of the consumer, and to boot the food is then shipped hundreds, sometimes thousands of miles away to those big ugly boxes, effectively leaving a carbon foot print so large it should immediately affect the value of that food as “organic” to any clearly thinking human being. And yet many people continue to shop in these huge emporiums of low-grad crap.

Do you know how many times that market farmers hear the phrase, “well, I’ll go to town and buy that at Wall-Mart cheaper.” ? Does that even make sense to anyone? You’d rather eat poisonous food from 1,000 miles away than to pay an extra $0.25 for quality, local products that you know support the local economy and that you can trust? Not to mention the fact that you are only lowering the value of the dollar and putting wealth and power in the hands of countries which are not exactly on friendly terms with us? I mean to me it doesn't make any sense, you would rather buy food from someone you don't know from a thousand miles away than to actually talk to and see the face of the very person who grew the food? This country is a long strange trip indeed!

I can understand now why so many little mom and pop stores have shut down. People stop supporting them and drive to town, paying more for gas, inflating the economy of the rich corporate stockholders and countries with horrible track records like China, while depleting our own country of natural resources, a healthy lifestyle, community, and yes even culture. For as much as a mom and pop store, a farmers market, or a local feed mill is a source for material goods it is also a source of knowledge and local and regionalized culture. Not only that, but I get a distinct impression that the materialism of this country drives one even more so to go out and buy the latest fashions and gas guzzling vehicles, so one can be trendy and “fit in” while at the same time pretending to “know“ and “care“ about global warming, politics, and the economy. Well America you go ahead and keep drowning our economy, keep pumping yourself full of dangerous chemicals, keep saying that the big box stores are good for us, keep thinking that you need all that crap that you waste your money on, keep playing into the game, keep destroying your history and culture, just keep right on conforming. Soon we can just go ahead and close down all the mom and pop stores, replace everything with “organic” Mc. Donald’s and Taco Bells, put a big Wall-Mart on every street corner and change the name of the United States of America to The Amalgamated states of Conformity. Me, well, I’m going to do the best I can to inform myself and those around me to make the right decisions while meanwhile continuing the god given work that I am doing and not pretending to be anything I am not. I’ll be your valuable market farmer, the source for your healthy food and lifestyle, your alternative to “New America”, I’ll just keep right on being the plant breeding, worm ranching, truly organic, seed saving, hill-Billy, ridge running farmer that I have been, and when the shit hit’s the fan, I’ll be sure to plant a little more for the extra needy and pray that those of you that have caused this can take the crash course in survivalism to protect yourselves and your families from the terrorism that you have inflicted on your own country.

So, here is my question, who are you going to turn to when things take the deep downturn we are headed towards? Is it going to be the mom and pop stores you put out of business? The farmer that couldn’t afford the tools he needed to get the job done?

Really, we have no one to blame for our health, our economy, our loss of morals and our horrible leaders other than ourselves. We have lost sight of what made this country great. Local culture and ideas. Self sustainable family owned business that care as much about the community as they do the money that they make. Independent people with independent ideas who stand up for what they believe in! When the last family farm falls, will you be there to say, this is our fault?

P.S. If you don’t believe that this country is in a sad state then take the time to rationalize that instead of working on national issues, congress is currently more interested in holding hearings regarding steroids in sports. You tell me, where are the priorities?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Update and Priori Proof regarding my cotton breeding experiment mentioned below!

I was recently fortunate enough to come accross four more strains of colored cottons through Sand Hill Preservation Center, below are the names and descriptions:

298 Green: Lint is off-green in color, bolls do not open up big, not a fluffy type.

A7 Brown: Very large, fluffy bolls, almost a khaki color.

Egyptian Green: 115 days. Beautiful flowers on 3 to 4 foot tall plants followed by bolls that produce pale green cotton. Best if treated like peppers as far as growth habit in the North.

Tan: 115 days. 4 foot plants with tan to brown shaded cotton bolls.

End Note on Cotton and Priori proof of the future existence of two new breeding mixes or possible fixed and open pollinated varieties.

Priori Proof is a term I have borrowed from one of Tom Wagners recent postings on the internet discussing and improved version of his still unreleased Verde Claro Tomato. The idea being that if one has the idea and the means to create something then it already exists in an albeit in-material and abstract way in ones mind. When I first started reading about the shades of colored cottons and found out to my dissapointment that most of the colors had since dissapeared I started to think that maybe through selection of slightly off colored types over time you could develop new shades of cotton. Of course my mind went to the extremes and I came up with two possibilities and two names to describe those possibilities as follows.

October Rust - Named for a Type O Negative album of the late 90's. Selecting and working with the off, slightly red tinted bolls of cotton we could look for the most rust colored boles and over a number of years develop a red, rust colored cotton which could be named October Rust and would be a terrific fall color.


Le Fee Verte (the green fairy) - The french name for Absynthe. Selecting for the darkest colors of green boles over a number of years and rouging out the off types we could concievably come up with the darkest green cotton yet. Green much like the color of grass in summer with any luck!

Of course these could be the names of new crosses and open pollinated types mixed into a genetically diverse breeding material as well and distributed for work and selection to interested gardeners (the most likely scenario for this fall and for work in '09).

I hold high hopes in particular for the four new cottons that will be added to the mix this year given their longer "staple" size and the developments that this could lead to and the benefits to be derrived from such.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Too long overlooked:

Too long overlooked:
Exploring and re-introducing alternative crops for the sake of nutrition, bio-diversity and self sustainability, a look at a few alternative crops we will be working with in the coming years.

Written and Researched By: Alan Reed Bishop of Hip-Gnosis Seed Development

Naturally colored cotton.

You may not realize it, but cotton has not always been white, as a matter of fact naturally occurring populations of cotton are often every color but white! Colored cotton (Genus: Gossypium) has been selected for and bred in a number of earth tone colors from Peru to Egypt and into the far East for nearly 3,000 years. During the era of slavery it was common to see cotton fields in the south exhibiting cottons in colors of green, brown, pink, and blue and most often slaves were not allowed to cultivate the white varieties due to perceived impurities, just another form of racism.

By the time of the industrial revolution and the invention of mechanical cotton gins and spinning machines colored cotton had fallen out of favor in the United States due to it’s generally short fiber (referred to as staple) which made mechanical spinning difficult if not impossible. As odd as it seems given the long history of traditional plant breeding in this country I’ve uncovered little if any evidence of historical cross breeding between species to develop a longer fibered colored cotton until the early 1980’s. Instead of doing what common sense dictates it appears that the large industrial producers of cotton instead preferred to and do still to dye their cottons with toxic chemicals which harm the environment to produce even the very same colors that are common in naturally colored cottons.

Cotton is a very demanding crop and one in which the cultivation most often involves the direct abuse of natural resources and overuse and rampant abuse of carcinogenic chemicals which leach into our soil, water, and even food supply. However, many of the primitive colored cottons have a higher degree of pest resistance and are further suited to poor soils and organic culture systems than the modern, often genetically modified, types of white cotton. Another admirable trait as seen in the eyes of a utilitarian plant breeder.

There are a very few modern companies producing some amount of colored cottons and much has been said about Sally Fox and her FoxFibre clothing line. The only thing that I will say about the subject of Sally Fox is that proclaiming the “invention” and patenting systems for breeding colored cotton is a direct slap in the face of traditional plant breeders, Native American farmers, and traditional agriculture the world over. What gives anyone the right to proclaim such a thing is somewhat beyond my comprehension, particularly someone who is attempting to “introduce” an alternative but does so by traveling the very same roads and making the same stops as those large companies which came before.

Upon searching the internet and seed companies as well as a number of gene banks in my search for colored cottons I came across very few resources and suppliers though I have found a unique and intriguing history of colored cotton and it’s many utilitarian uses and it’s resurgence. I managed to dig around and come up with five cultivars. Four of which were available from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
( ) . The varieties available were only available in shades of green and brown. The varieties listed were: Nankeen (a short staple brown), Mississippi Brown (another short staple brown), Erlenes Green (a short staple green, and Arkansas green lint (another short staple Green. With a little research I was able to find a source for Peruvian brown cotton via Native Seeds/SEARCH, however it would appear that the USDA has put a useless, and wide reaching restrictive quarantine on this type due to “pink boll worm” and despite Indiana not being a cotton growing state, seed could not be shipped here and was only available to a small handful of south-western states. Thanks to a good friend however I was able to get my hands on a small batch of this genetically diverse seed with a longer “staple” and variation in color from chocolate brown to green.

This is not the first time that colored cottons have been quarantined. In the southern cotton growing states it is illegal to grow colored cottons for fear of being an alternative host to boll worms and also due to fear of cross contamination with cultivated white cotton. Fears which are unfounded and which have also unfortunately led to the demise and extinction in much cotton diversity. The same restrictive laws were also set into place in Peru all the way into the mid 80’s, by which time much of the genetic diversity had been destroyed or eroded.

Why bother to grow colored cottons in Indiana or to produce diverse seed and new crosses and cultivars of which to organic gardeners and market farmers? My reasons are many, but among the top of those reasons is history. As my growing out, selection, crossing, and maintaining a number of Nicotiana Tobaccum lines is representative of a lesson in the history and culture of my heritage and family and a valuable lesson for new gardeners and children so too do these colored cottons and their cultivation, harvest, preservation and history hold valuable lessons for future generations, including finding a new respect for the hard work that slaves were forced to endure, I am a firm believer that everyone should have to harvest cotton boles at least once during a hot summer day to truly understand what the slaves and cotton farmers had to endure in olden times, it gives us a chance to experience living history and find a newfound and invigorating respect for the peoples and days that have come before us. Of course the history also extends back to our ancestors and their cultivation of and development of these cottons and their utilitarian uses and one day these colored cottons may become an important source of textile material again, as useful as they are beautiful!

These cottons represent living history and human achievement in natural and sustainable systems, many of these cottons exhibit a tolerance to pest and disease pressures that modern cottons do not and these cottons can even be grown in very poor soil with very good results. Indeed these cottons are far removed in practicality, advantageous traits, beauty, and utilitarian traits from their genetically modified and environmentally damaging cousins, the cultivated white cotton of the south. Among the other virtues of these beautiful cultivars are and increased an unique softness to the touch, they are hardy and genetically diverse, adapted to a number of growing environments, pest and drought tolerant, and they eliminate the need for harmful chemical dyes which further pollute the already fragile eco-systems in cotton growing states.

Indeed I would love to see gardeners across the nations take up the hard work of saving and maintaining old strains of cottons, new potential crosses, and genetically diverse blends, even if the boles are never put to their advantageous use they do make a beautiful border plant and an interesting and important living history lesson.


Quinoa is an ancient cereal or pseudo cereal (not a true member of the grass family) grown for its edible seeds and greens. Quinoa was developed in the Andean region of South America where it has been grown for nearly 6,000 years by the Native American tribes in this region, usually at high elevations, making it a somewhat hardy and versatile crop. In morphology and description it somewhat resembles another South American grain crop, Amaranth which we will also be growing in trials this year. Quinoa is of interest not just because of it history and perceived rarity in North America making it a niche product but also because of its nutritional properties. Quinoa is 12-18% protein and high in essential amino acids, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, and dietary fiber, and is also low in Gluten making it a nearly complete food and also a kosher source of food and a great alternative for diabetics.

We will be growing out three varieties of Quinoa this year sourced from Seeds of Change.

The seed/grain apparently contains Saponins which impart a bitter flavor. A trait which is desirable in the field to ward off birds and other scavenging pests but not too popular in the culinary trade. It is apparently this bitter flavor which may have caused the Europeans to pass up this important staple of Native American diet while they were colonizing the Americas. The Saponins are removed using water prior to cooking. Some amount of educating the public about this important crop will be expected, in time however we feel its virtues will outweigh the extra steps of preparation.


Amaranth refers to a wide variety of species (60 or so) with a widespread range and culinary or other uses which produce vividly colorful inflorescences (flower spikes) and foliage.

The types which we will be growing this year are used much like the Quinoa mentioned above and originated in the same areas (Amaranthus caudatus, Amaranthus cruentus, and Amaranthus hypochondriacus.). The foliage can be eaten as a pot herb/cooked green and the seed is used as a grain. Amaranth is high in essential amino acids and lycopene and is a crop to be watched in the future, particularly for arid climates where drought tolerance is absolutely necessary and where nutrition is scarce and land poor.

We will be developing, selecting, and maintain Amaranths here on the farm and for distribution through Hip-Gnosis Seed Development. Searching and selecting specifically for productivity, beauty, taste and nutrition and seeking to develop new colors of inflorescences.

This year will also see a grow out of several rare South American root crops such as Yacon, Maca, and Oca. At a later time we will publish a general paper on these particular crops. The above published paper will be updated as the 2008 season progresses and we harvest a crop, seeds, make selections, and take notes on general and natural observations.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Two Year Pedigree of Astronomy Domine Sweet Corn:

Hip-Gnosis Seed Development Research Notes (2007/2008)
Written By: Alan Reed Bishop

Two Year Pedigree of Astronomy Domine Sweet Corn: Notes on parent lines in original two mass crosses as well as selection criteria and explanation of intent and novelty.

Explanation and Intent of development:

Astronomy Domine Sweet Corn is the working name of a “mass cross” breeding and selection for sweet corn which meets a niche demand in Southern Indiana markets for a multi-colored, open pollinated, enhanced nutrition, drought tolerant and genetically diverse sweet corn of special interest to home gardeners, seed savers, and market gardeners looking to fill a niche. The project has evolved over the past year by way of the Hip-Gnosis Seed Development Project to include and inspire home gardeners and plant breeders across the United States and Canada to use the first generational germless from the original mass cross to develop and increase the diversity of regional strains of Astronomy Domine which may later be renamed by participating growers to their own desire.

Multiple lines of colored open pollinated and hybrid sweet corns were planted together in a small eight row block on our small produce farm in Pekin Indiana in the 2007 season. The corns ranged days of maturity from 55-90 days, planting was staggered so as to further facilitate crossing between late maturing, mid maturing, and early maturing varieties leading to a harvest date that was literally all over the map in the late summer and early fall of 2007. No irrigation was performed and the plot was fertilized only with composted chicken manure. Very little earworm damage was noticed and the corn seemed mostly unfazed by the record setting drought of 2007, sans the genetics provided by Ruby Queen hybrid sweet corn (Burpee’s Seeds). CCorn planted early in the season (as early as April 23’d) was somewhat affected by the cool soil emergence; however this provided us with a bit of selection for cool soil emergence issues. Seed was interplanted in bare spots over the next three weeks to further facilitate the crossing of different maturing dates.

Colored corn kernels are of particular interest to us in our breeding experiments due to the high levels of Anthocyanins which free radical scavenging amino acids are thought to be important in both combating and preventing cancers.

This corn also represents progress towards a self sustainable, Open Pollinated sweet corn developed for organic and natural growing systems as well as selected for multiple uses. Fresh Culinary, Dried or made into corn meal, and ornamental uses. Also represents an attempt at developing a “Value Added Seed” line with the added value present in the free amino acids that pericap color imparts. This experiment also represents an attempt at developing defined color traits in the early milk stage of sweet corn for the purpose of attracting market customers and for the added nutrition of the pigmentations of these corn kernels.


“Value Added Seed” - Is a term that I use to describe seed of special interest which contain added traits which set them apart from standard varieties. Particularly traits which make the seed novel and in most cases higher in nutrition than alternative seed.


The following is a listing of the corns included in the original mass cross of 2007 as well as some descriptive notes regarding each variety:

Ruby Queen Hybrid- Sugar Enhanced deep red kernelled hybrid variety introduced by Burpee. Tolerant of Rust and Stewarts Wilt. Not cool soil tolerant but a good source of color and anthocyanins. Color apparent at milk stage.

Blue Jade-Open Pollinated SU variety sourced through . Very diminutive and dwarf variety that is actually acceptable for pot cultures. Short season, developed in the north. Deep blue kernels at maturity, increasing in color as the conversion of starch progresses. Apparently somewhat drought tolerant. Planted throughout the three week period. Color apparent at late milk/early starch stage
Millersburg Red Sweet Corn- Open Pollinated SU variety that was sourced locally in neighboring Orange County Indiana. Large Kernelled late season variety, not as deep red as ruby queen, more subdued earth tone and diluted red color. Large Ears and Tall plants. Color apparent at late milk stage

Millersburg small- Open Pollinated SU Variety, sourced from the same location as above but smaller diminutive plants that mature early, probably the result of inbreeding depression. NEarly identical to above variety. Color apparent at late milk stage

Red 101-Open Pollinated SU variety, sourced from Purdue University. No history was reported other than a possible breeding line from a “corn lab” once located in Clark County Indiana. Late season, large eared and kernelled, deep red cultivars. Tolerant of Stewarts Wilt, cold tolerant seed. Three ears to a stalk. Color apparent at milk stage.

Mushrooms Martian Double Red Sweet Corn- Open Pollinated SU Variety. Sourced through Sow Organic Seed. Bred by Dr. Alan Kapuler of peace seeds. Purple kernelled mid-season type, high in anthocyanins (reportedly higher than that of blueberries), mid to late season. Pedigree includes “True Platinum”. Color apparent at milk stage

Triple Play- Open Pollinated SU variety from Seeds of Change. Could not locate a history or a breeder. Small plants bear three small ears of SU type corn which matures to shades of blue, yellow, and white. Color apparent at late milk stage

Black Mexican- Open Pollinated SU Variety. Reportedly grown in the New York area by Native Americans, primitive and early form of sweet corn. Small plants which produce ears which turn from white to deep blue. Not nearly as sweet as modern varieties even SU types. Color apparent at starch stage

Black Puckers-Open Pollinated SU Variety. Sourced from a seed trade. Nearly identical to Black Mexican with slightly different shaped kernels and some crossing with a red variety. No History Provided. Color apparent at starch stage

Country Gentleman-Open Pollinated SU Variety. Sourced from . Old fashioned white sweet corn. Late maturing, large kernelled and large eared corn, popular with home gardeners. Apparently a parent of popular SU and SE hybrids Silver Queen and Silver King

White 101- Open Pollinated SU Variety. Sourced through Purdue University. Large plants, very late season, near last to mature. Large ears and huge kernels. Makes a good roasting corn but not so good boiled.

Hopi-Pink Sweet Strain- Open Pollinated SU Variety sourced through a trade. A sweet version of the Hopi-Pink flour corn popular among seed traders and corn collectors. Appeared to suffer some amount of inbreeding depression. Beautiful Pink Kernels of sweet corn. Mid Season type. Color apparent at milk stage.

Hookers Sweet- SU, Open Pollinated type. Grown By Ira Hooker and offered by Seeds of Change. White/yellow kernelled sweet corn of good quality, great for roasting. Color is apparent at late milk stage.

Howling Mob- SU, Open Pollinated type. Old fashioned roasting corn, sweeter than most old roasting ears. Late season, large ears, large kernels. Tolerant of Stewarts wilt.

Black?-SU, Open Pollinated type. Very early season. Sourced locally from a farm stand customer. No history given other than grown in the family for years. Appears to differ from other black types. Color apparent at late milk stage.

Double Standard- SU, Open Pollinated bi-color type. Sourced from abundant life seed foundation. Could find no history or pedigree or breeder.

Washington County Orange- SU, Open Pollinated type. Gifted to me by an elderly farming couple years ago. Apparently a selection of a mutant field corn plant from back in the 50’s. Grown for generations by the same family. Mid-Season. Yellow Kernels turn orange-ish red at late milk stage.

Silver King- SE, Hybrid Type. Great tasting and high yielding modern white hybrid.

Golden Bantam- SU, Open Pollinated type. Popular with home gardeners, originally introduced by Burpee’s Seeds man. Plump golden kernels. Mid season type.

Ashworth- SU, Open Pollinated type. Early season sweet corn developed by Fred Ashworth originally supposedly named “rat selected”. Great early season type.

Pastel Colors-SU, Open Pollinated type. Gifted to me by an Appalachian friend in Manchester KY, represents work with segregating crosses of flint types and sweet types. Mixed seed stock from various selections. Late season, large ear types. Colors present in milk stage.

Festival Multicolor-SE/SU types. Developed by Ken Ettlinger of The Long Island Seed Project.

Four other unnamed segregates were also massed into the field. These segregates represented my earliest attempts at sweet corn breeding and were comprised of various crosses of the above.

I feel that it is important for the reader to know that each of the varieties listed above in the cross are also being maintained in their pure state in our living seed bank at Hip-Gnosis Seed Development to preserve their cultural heritage and genetic diversity. Some are being further refined for possible future release. Of particular interest is the Pastel Color line for further development and release.

Seed was selected from the most productive, drought tolerant, healthy, and interesting plants and bulked together for distribution and planting in 2008.

Several new seed stocks have since been added to the mix to further integrate positive traits which we will begin selecting for after this seasons new mass cross. The seed stocks added to the mix include:

Rainbow Inca-SU, Open Pollinated Type. Developed by Dr. Alan Kapular from a mix of southwestern and heirloom sweet corns as well as a large eared, white Chokelo variety from Peru.

Painted Hills-SU, Open Pollinated Type. Developed by Dr. Alan Kapular from a cross of breeder Dave Christianson’s flint corn “Painted Mountain” crossed to Ashworth. Nice diversity of colors, very genetically diverse, large kernelled type.

Cocopah-SU, Open Pollinated Type. Obtained from Native Seeds/SEARCH. A southwestern Native American variety of primitive sweet corn in a wide rainbow of colors.

Future Development:

This year we will have two selections of Astronomy Domine that we will work with. The first will be the original stock with the added genetics mentioned above in a new mass cross. The selection criteria will as always range a wide array of positive traits including cool soil germination and emergence, tolerance to disease, lodging resistance, drought tolerance, and taste, coloration in milk stage, pest tolerance, and taste.

This corn could be widely selected and allowed to re-hybridize every season or diverse selections could be made and selected for uniformity. The idea here is to basically develop an excellent open pollinated corn for organic systems which also incorporates enhanced nutrition and fills a niche market, while also striving to develop possibly the most genetically diverse sweet corn ever introduced.

The second selection of Astronomy Domine will include the original stock and the added genetics mentioned above inter cropped with a white SE type sweet corn, most likely Silver King. The Silver King will be planted in alternating rows and detasslled. This should lead to the large ears and large kernels of Silver King in the array of colors of Astronomy Domine while maintaining the SE genetics for enhanced sugar. The corn from the mother Silver King plants will be used for the fresh market and seed will also be bulked into seed saved from the 2008 crop for future development.

I can and do forsee future crosses planted in mass for years to come with this project, corns only benefit from hybridization and as long as I can keep introducing new genetics to the mix, particularly those of colored genes I will probably do so.

Much of my work with this corn experiment was inspired by Dave Christianson who has spent thirty plus years breeding his Painted Mountain Flint corn.

I will update this pedigree and research as the growing season in 2008 and selection work begins.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Traditional Farming, Plant Breeding, and Natural Observation: Possible Solutions to problems facing us in the Twenty First Century.

Written and Researched by: Alan Reed Bishop of Hip-Gnosis Seed Development and Bishop's Homegrown

Without farmers and traditional methods of agriculture, plant selection and breeding it is very doubtful that we would truly know what “civilization” is. The farmer, his cultivation and domestication of crops and livestock are the first and biggest step towards civilization. Without the farmer many facets of civilization become un-thinkable and indeed become extraneous and indeed detrimental to the job at hand, survival; for it is the farmer, the domestication of his crops, the harvesting and distribution of those crops and the reliability of the farmer and his time tested methods of agriculture, plant and seed breeding and selection, and distribution of those crops that make up the very backbone on which the rest of civilization is built.

Without the hard work of the traditional food and textile producing farmer we would still be a hunter and gatherer society, roaming from place to place and taking from the land only that which it naturally gives to us, a cycle which while more natural caries with it implications. Without the advent of the hoe, seed selection, tending of the earth, careful observation of the cycles of the seasons, and ever so careful tending of those crops, we could not and would not have the time for the full on development of culture and civilization that we see rise concurrently with the rise of agriculture around the world. The artist, the poet, the musician, the muse, the soldier, the civil workers, the architects, the metalworkers, religious and spiritual convictions and every niche in society could not be filled and would become utterly futile if not for the work of the farmer. It is farmers which provide us with the impetus for civilization. The farmers arrive and cultivate the land, providing us with food and nourishment, with the very substance of life, seemingly, if not completely, taming the elements of nature if only momentarily, to provide us with a more settled and civilized form of life in which trading, niche jobs, and culture may flourish. Without the farmer all of these systems fail.

It is through traditional and time tested agriculture that these great deeds become possible. It is through the traditional and time tested agriculture that civilizations flourish and or fail partially or wholly and through which the human gene pool can continue to grow and expand. Through the responsible and sustainable and natural cultivation of the earth, saving of seeds, the breeding of new plant varieties, and the basis for the value of food, in the fact that it is a labor of the earth which cannot and should not be cheated with chemical treatment and dangerous cultivation practices least we face the consequences of the poisoning of our own food, water, and the very seed and ground we grow our food in, and more recently the very proteins and genes that we pass on to our offspring which are now threatened by Genetically Modified Organisms which are neither labeled in our country nor covered widely by the press. Farmers who would overlook these practices need not apply to the bold new future which I subscribe to least they take the time to realize the consequences of their actions by informed observation and seeking the knowledge of days long lost but which still holds merit and is passed by word of mouth from farmer to farmer. A good starting point for those of such persuasion would be the Native American philosophical belief known most widely as the law of “seven generations” a law which plainly realizes the consequences of negative actions upon the earth and her eco systems and seeks to inform observers that one should not commit an act if it will in any negative way effect any generation for the next seven.

With this is mind it becomes ever more apparent the predicament that we are placed in as a civilization as we enter deeper into the twenty first century. With the fall of the family farm and the apparent acceptance of chemical and Genetically Modified agriculture by the few remaining corporate farmers in our country and indeed around the world, we are loosing sight of what it is that in fact created our civilization, sustained it for thousands of years, and can again be the savior of much of our heritage and being here on the little planet we call home. We are rampantly overpopulating the planet and stressing it’s natural resources and restorative properties to the max, all the while those with seats in power would have us believe that our very lifestyles, our very being on this planet, our choices in everyday life have nothing to do with rising rates in disease, a rising sea level, more violent ecological disastrous, natural disasters and global warming, while deep within our own hearts, no matter how hard we try to ignore, we know by way of natural observation that we as a species are responsible for the widespread destruction that surely will be the seed of our own destruction.

Only through education, personal choice, moral deliberation, soul seeking and history can we seek to make positive change in this negative atmosphere. Choosing to step away from popular trends, wasteful mentalities, futile wars, twentieth century technology, and earth polluting, life destroying pollutants and towards self sustainable, clean and efficient, natural, truly green technology or the application of which to old technology can we begin to right the wrongs of the generations who have come before us. Only through allowing the voice of reason and right is heard can we stand forth and make positive change.

It is with these ideas that I seek to inform and “push the buttons” of society, cause questioning, and indeed to allow my contribution to civilization to stand forth and be heard. I often find myself observing the nightly news and questioning how the perceived problems that are presented to me are considered to be unsolvable dilemmas when the very answer lies right at the feet of humanity, within 10,000 years of natural observation, cultural memory, and innovative and safe problem solving. I can only surmise that perhaps the cultural memory has been cut off or at least dampened by the growing mentality of “give me, give me, give me”, the lack of soul seeking, and the desire to live vicariously through the gadgetry of the twentieth and twenty-first century.

Indeed it seems that the human population has been deceived and done a great injustice, this is of course saying in a manner, that perhaps we aren’t as intelligent a species as we like to believe and in fact maybe we are nothing more than a dangerous disease on the face of planet earth, a disease which can be manipulated by members of it‘s own design to be unquestioning organisms of defeat and destruction. I say this because I wonder at exactly what point the human civilization went into auto-pilot and handed the keys over to the few individuals with power to make our decisions for us, certainly humans have been manipulated and controlled in the past, but I find it particularly noteworthy that now more than ever attention can be and is swayed from the most important of all dilemmas, indeed those happening in our own backyard yard and are instead swayed towards the latest celebrity gossip, political diatribe, or new techno-gadgetry.

The so called “peak food” dilemma and some ideas which may represent the promise of life and nutrition to a growing populace lost in commerce.

If we are to accept that a growing generation(s) of the human populace are indeed as consumer and trend minded as they appear to be and indeed perhaps this is do to under-education and or deliberate avoidance of factual evidence then perhaps it is time to change our opinion of what exactly constitutes “farm land” or land which can be used to produce agriculture products, both food items as well as those of a beauty or environmentally enhancing character and those which contain medicinal valueS.

One thing I’ve often wondered is why, particularly in urban settings, parks do not more often have areas set aside to grow food plants. For example, why is it not mandatory for a park to have to plant 20% of its grounds with food producing crops such as apple trees, pear trees, and black berry bushes and so on? Within circles of like minded farmers and plant breeding this type of agriculture is known as “perma-culture” and represents a growing percentage of agriculture present on small family owned farms. If indeed every park in America were planted implementing this design can you imagine the way that the tables would turn on nutrition, disease, and hunger overnight? Of course those in power, particularly those within the confined walls of corporate board rooms would never allow such a thing to occur, because suddenly the sales of their fatally poisoned and genetically modified and processed foods would start to decline. Another great area for this type of agriculture would be along the state and federally owned highways right of ways. Can you imagine a highway planted with apple trees instead of dogwoods stretching for miles in every direction? In South America and in some areas of the East it was common for roads to be lined with food producing crops of perennial and annual types, there for the use of the hungry and wary traveler on the way to his next location and often these projects were administered by the governments of the regions. Is it to much to ask for at least rest stops along interstates to be filled with orchards and gardens instead of snack machines filled with processed and irradiated foods?

Urban Gardening/Community Gardening

Another facet that I find quite disturbing is the lack of urban and community gardens in cities the world over. Indeed in recent years, with the help of several adventurous and brave souls we have seen urban and community gardens and agriculture education rise in some of the biggest cities in the U.S. But those cities that go without would only be doing justice to their citizens to seriously consider such measures. It is my belief that every high school should have a one year agriculture program complete with basic education in natural gardening and hands on environment for children to learn to tend to the earth. I mean after all, you can waste all that land on enormous football and baseball fields, what will a small plot, planted naturally and tended with care and administered by the school hurt anything. Children could be taught the basics of tending their own gardens, producing their own foods, saving their own seeds, and in advanced situations breeding their own plants. Information which is rightfully, by way of culture and civilization, as well as 10,000 years of history, theirs to do with as they want.

Informing our children of their agriculture history is just as important as informing our children of the history of the world and the nation and should be a pre-requisite for graduation, it also wouldn’t hurt to cover the topics that are most disastrous to ecology and nature as well. When I was a child earth day and Arbor Day day were a big deal, they were spent learning about agriculture, planting trees, and exchanging information and questions with professional and well educated nature enthusiast, it may be these very people, coupled with my Appalachian heritage and family that have led me down this long strange road at Bishop’s Homegrown/Hip-Gnosis seed development, it wouldn’t hurt to see this education expand the young minds interested in exploring the fields, forests, and bio-diversity of our planet earth, after all it is these minds which will next shape our world. It is these very children who will one day set in political offices and may be able to put a stop to the rampant chemical and genetic modification dangers inherent in today’s agricultural practices.

Farmers Markets, CSA’s, Local Eating, and supporting your local farmer.

Supporting your local farmers market and CSA’s, particularly those who seek to change the agricultural systems common in today’s world back to those which reflect the natural world is another way to curtail the food shortage and to begin to correct the wrongs done to the environment as well as to improve the nutrition that you provide yourself and you family. It is on these very farms that you will find people intertwined with the natural cultivation and observation of the earth, working to improve and sometimes even breed new food crops and preserve the bio-diversity of our food crops. An important step in supporting these very farms is by actually visiting them, many of the growers love to give tours of their farms, exchange information with other farmers and customers, and share in the diversity and heritage of the work that they do.

Green Graffiti

Green Graffiti, which I also refer to as “Positive Vandalism”, is an idea that I’ve been working on for several years. Particularly using the time tested method of seed balls (balls made of red clay containing the seed of food crops or medicinal crops), these seed balls are thrown out onto the ground and sprout with the rains of spring provided much needed beauty and food to areas which have been depleted of natural resources. A great place to use these seed balls is in abandoned lots in the inner city and perhaps even along sidewalks and in plant beds, these seed balls may provide a bit of nourishment to someone in need and could be a great asset to entire communities as well as “greening” up the concrete jungles and bare soils of dilapidated urban areas.

Here is a great article about seed balls as well as instructions for creating your own:

Natural Research and Development

A concept that simply escapes my grasp is why there is little to no money or open resource seed banks available to independent researches in the development of new varieties of food-plants. In an ever changing and dynamic environment that changes year to year with the escalation of global warming it is of utmost importance that independent and regionalized seed breeders have access to genetically diverse material to create the next generation of open pollinated, copy left, seed options. Instead government institutions such as the USDA and the ARS GRIN system have focused all of their contributions on the big bio-tech companies, specifically hurting the small farmer and seed breeder who must do everything out of pocket with only commercially available seed stocks and those traded with others for a starting point.

We started the Hip-Gnosis seed development project to combat just this type of problem, offering seed of our unique varieties and crosses as well as old Open Pollinated selections, and our information to the general public for free. It is with this dynamic relationship that we are putting the power back into the hands of the grower to make selections for his or her own environmental conditions for the betterment of the agriculture world and civilization as a whole. These seed may indeed represent the next generation of self-sustainable agriculture and will always remain open source and the property of humanity as a whole to help nurture along new varieties, adapted to the conditions of a dynamically changing environment. Is it to much to ask for a little co-operation from our own government, or is it that they too stand to loose too much money and power by sleeping in the same bed as their corporate partners?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Out of the Garden of Eden: The Cultivation of Cultural, Agricultural, and Spiritual Knowledge

Written and Researched by: Alan Reed Bishop of Hip-Gnosis Seed Development and Bishop's Homegrown

The Middle-East is rich in diverse spirituality, culture, beauty, exotic tastes, and turmoil. My goal here is not to vindicate or get behind any religious zealotry or to try to persuade or change the minds of people who come into a conversation with concrete belief and convictions, people of such mindsets are often dull, unable to adapt, and un accepting of new, invigorating ideas, even those which do not seek to change their own belief, which are actually ideas that are quite old and just need to be re-born from the ashes much like the phoenix from time to time. In fact I am a firm believer in everything which takes the time to believe in me, ideas too are seeds and need to be planted, fertilized and cultivated all the same. To my mind having an idea is so much more appealing than having a belief, but then again, I'm a pretty open minded kind of guy, I get called a hippy a lot, but this is generally by folks who haven't seen my harsher sides.

In this article I will discuss one of my ideas regarding the exit from the Garden of Eden as a metaphorical idea for the evolution and rise of civilization, cultural ideas, and spiritual cultivation. It is not my intention to try to persuade anyone to believe what I believe, I only ask that my "idea" is respected and that discussion is polite and not of a stingingly religious or zealous nature.

Genesis has taken many forms over the years and has been interpreted in a myriad of ways by a myriad of cultures over thousands of years. Most generally accepted is the idea that the Garden of Eden is an actual physical place, an actual paradise of earthly delights if you will, it was filled with gods love and admiration of man, and with the exception of the exclusion of Lilith that same love was extended to women. Of course threes the idea of the serpent, dependent upon who is reading such verses the serpent could be anything from primal impulse to Satan himself in the flesh, begetting Eve to eat of the tree of knowledge, forever mortally sinning. These ideas are of the most basic type which have been circulated and handed out in sermons for centuries; these ideas do have merit and value and are certainly of religious and cultural importance for they are the starting point of three of the world’s major religions.

Thousands of years of research have been devoted to the many mysteries of the Garden of Eden and many a soul have tried to find this sacred place, most generally described as being at the meeting place of four major rivers, most often the Tigris and Euphrates are considered the most logical and indeed as so much in Mesopotamia, this area is most likely where civilization itself was born, so it isn't too far fetched for me to think that maybe the Garden of Eden may represent, not just an area, but in fact an Idea, in particular a metaphor for the transition of mankind from a loose society of hunter-gatherer societies into one of agrarian agriculture, abstract thought, spoken word history, and spiritual evolution!

This is to say that in the fertile crescent of Mesopotamia that man had existed for a number of years as a primitive gatherer of fruits and hunter of game animals until an event intervened and caused a distinct and intense change in the ways of that loose and clannish society, possibly a catastrophic event that changed the very way that mankind saw his world and experienced it, in order to survive more efficiently mankind saw the need to create civilizations which wherein the citizens could work in conjunction with one another to tame the wild crops, tame the very essence of life, nature itself and allow nature to do it's bidding for him in such a way that wondering the wilds could never do. There is after all protection in numbers and indeed power in knowledge. Perhaps climate change as we are experiencing now facilitated this change, rising sea levels or searing drought may have made wild crops less dependent, perhaps outside sources of conflict spurned such decisions. THis truth is we will probably never know, but the idea stands up in my mind, that perhaps we can see some metaphors in this ancient and important idea of the Garden of Eden.

Perhaps Adam and Eve represent the very earliest of humans, the hunter gatherer tribes, provided all by the powers that be on the earth, nature herself, they take no more than nature gives, for they don't know yet how to manipulate seed and earth to their advantage.

The snake may very well represent the events which befell our hunter gatherer society, catastrophic events that force us to change the very way which we looked at our world and the way in which we interacted with it.

The fruit of the tree of knowledge may represent the very idea of planting and cultivating seed, cultural ideas, spiritual belief, and civilization.

And the sin and inability to once again enter the garden may represent the fact that mankind will never again be able to erase the cultural, spiritual, and agricultural ideas that he has taken upon himself, forever removing himself from a somewhat feral and free existence of a lower think, less intellectual being.

From the moment the very first Man or Woman made the observation of seeds sprouting plants which can be grown for food, food which can nourish oneself or food which can be traded for other food or goods, which spawn societies of people working in specialized areas to provide food or services to trade for food, and Man or Woman made the decision to start to "tame nature" and cultivate the land, the very idea of civilization and agriculture have existed. Of course, living life in a less stress induced way, sharing new ideas, and trading with other societies leads to belief, particularly belief in things which cannot be explained by the very basic ideas which have formed within society, these beliefs become spirituality, spirituality that is fertilized by new ideas of what "God" can and does represent, what "God" gives and takes. Rain, Fertility, Children, Death, all ideas to be expanded upon become part of the mythology and cosmology of new religions, belief which further ties together societies, societies which further create isolated bands of people, Isolate bands of people living in societies create unique and different cultures, trading expands and diversifies those cultures. Spoken words hand down memories through the ages whereupon pieces are lost and new ones added, and so we have the very history of agrarian culture, all explainable using the idea of the "Garden of Eden" and therein there is still room for an Idea of God for every person of whatever religious or spiritual persuasion.

It's a truly beautiful idea. Seeds themselves are an expression of this idea; their very stories are an expression of this idea, their history, and their nutrition. Each seed holds the promise of 10,000 years of human history. Of what "reality" truly is. Not the reality that is bought and sold in the domestic world every day, not that reality which is consumerism, box stores, oil wars, and concrete jungles, but those realities which include self sustainable ideas, societies and cultures which could still be relevant 10,000 years from now, expanded upon, shared with one another, given as gifts of seed and ideas. Not consumerism, not video games. Instead, Earth, Love, Seeds, the gift of Life, of sharing, community, belief, knowledge.

These are the "Ideas" that motivate me. These are the "Ideas" that are important. And these are the "Ideas" that I hope to nourish, plant the seed of, fertilize, cultivate, and use to nourish the souls and bodies of my friends, family, and my customers. These are the extensions of Bishop's Homegrown and Hip-Gnosis seed development. These are the culmination of 10,000 years of human experience and what is true, natural and beautiful. These are not dangerous ideas about genetic modification, food additives, and oil wars. These are not life destroying carcinogens or capable of creating escalating religious zealotry, power grabs and global warming. These are the natural world, the reality that lies beneath a couple of generations of cold souls and miles of concrete.

The Real is what I call it. It's just an Idea that I wanted to share.

Alan Reed Bishop

Selecting and Breeding seed for a bold new climate.

Written and Researched by: Alan Reed Bishop of Hip-Gnosis Seed Development and Bishop's Homegrown

Anybody who has ever lived in Southern Indiana can tell you that the weather can be quite fickle. I've often heard it said that if one does not like the weather in Indiana then they should wait five minutes because it will change. Indeed for at least six months out of the year you may go every other day wearing shorts and a t-shirt to the next day wearing over alls!

However, climate change has certainly thrown Southern Indiana a curve ball over the past five or so years. Us Hoosiers in the southern part of the state hardly know what a spring is anymore and our summers seem to keep getting hotter and drier (minus the '06 season which was incredibly wet, too wet in fact). OOur weather patterns are changing as well as were viewed over the past couple of weeks with the outbreak of winter tornadoes all over Kentuckiana, a rare event, but it does happen from time to time, however within the past 5-8 years with increasing frequency. Coincidently, just as our climate zone has moved up one bracket so to have the weather reflected this, winter thunderstorms and Tornadoes are common in the Tennessee valley, which is where our new zone used to set.

This past planting season I had the foresight to predict that we were going to have a dry summer and I was able to collect a large number of seed accessions from drier parts of the world. Particularly I collected corn seed, squash seed, and some melon seed from Native Seeds/SEARCH out in Tucson Arizona. A preservation center and seed company which specializes in collecting accessions of seeds and preserving them, from desert and arid region dwelling Native Americans of the Southwest and of Mexico. This germplasm is rich in culture, history, and specifically in drought tolerant genes which may become of great importance now in a bold new world of climate change.

We grew out a number of squash and corn accessions last year which were hardly touched by the record setting drought and mostly lack of irrigation here at Bishop's Homegrown. Unlike other farms we do not have a pond on our property (as of yet, though that is an investment which will be made this coming fall), the only sources of irrigation we have on our farm are a creek which we keep dammed up, a couple of springs, and a couple of wells, we also have access to some ponds on surrounding farms within one mile, but hauling water that distance really pulls on our fuel resources.

Of particular importance was some sweet corn seed that we have been experimenting with and which is no present in our Astronomy Domine breeding material, a sweet corn grown by natives out west in what is known as "dry farming", a term basically meaning "allowed to fend for itself". This particular corn showed a lot of vigor and tolerance to drought and didn't in fact seem to notice the drought at all. Of course the drought tolerance was important to us in the breeding of Astronomy Domine and we will be doing selection for those genes in subsequent grow outs of that material.

We also made a number of positive observations on the winter squash which we received from Native Seeds/SEARCH, one would tend to think that dessert cultivated squash would be a dry, somewhat tasteless affair with little foliage. However, the Mochata, Mixta, and Maxima varieties all performed beautifully, were the last to go down in the year, produced an abundance of fruit, and had a nice taste for pies, breads and more, as a matter of fact they are one of the items that has been most highly requested from our farm stand customers for next year. Of course samples of these were also interplanted in our Mass cross of winter squashes and we expect great results from the future segregation of the hand made and bee made chance crosses of those saved accessions.

This year we did quite a bit of business buying seed for research, breeding and for farm stand customers through Native Seeds/SEARCH. I recently requested a number of squash varieties which are new to me, particular of the Cheese squash type as well as the Hubbard types, I requested a few Mixta/Agyrosperma types, but these aren't particularly high on my priority list because I much prefer the Moshata, Mixta, and Pepo types which I also think make better pies and which also seem to perform and store better for us. I am looking forward to making observations on these squash and some new crosses between these and other squash types we will be growing this year. I am particularly interested in the storage capacity, the drought and heat tolerance and the productivity as well as the taste. Of course there is always the added bonus of all the culture and the history of planting seed which has been passed down by Native American farmer after Native American farmer.

Another set of seeds that we requested was a relatively large collection of watermelon genotypes. Much like the squash that Native Americans grew, selected, and passed down the watermelon types are very diverse. Some tribes didn't save seed types separately from one another and let them hybridize freely for years and centuries, selecting only the strongest, most vigorous, nutritious, and pest and disease tolerance. They didn't place so much importance on uniformity and over time plants that appear to be separate and distinct verities were slowly combined into one, open pollinated variety. That is to say that a field planted in one type of Native American squash, one variety of Native American Squash, may throw any number of oddball shapes, sizes and colorations, sometimes more than one "type" to a vine. It is definitely intriguing and a parallel can be drawn between this and the so called "Indiana corn" that’s colors can not be separated out to breed true to one color. The same holds true for some types of watermelons in which one variety may throw several different shaped, different rinded and different flesh colored melons (red and yellow fleshed melons both in one fixed variety).

This diversity, culture, history of use, nutrition, pest tolerance and drought tolerance all make this seed particularly important in my breeding projects here on this farm. With the climate apparently going through such unstable and quick changes in just a few years we could have major drought every year or every few years in which time water (yes there will be a day when "peak water" comes) will be regulated just as it was in Georgia this past year, will be a rare commodity. The only varieties that will survive this type of drought are those with drought tolerance. By growing these South Western, desert dwelling, Native American varieties I am assuring the productivity of my farm as well as of my customer’s tables and assuring the productivity of gardeners and market farmers who I trade with. It is also my intention to breed this tolerance into some of my breeding projects and some of my old time varieties to further enhance their good qualities. It is better to be prepared for some event like this than to loose everything that you have I believe. Of course customers also like this diversity and I expect that by mixing the diverse watermelon seed into my mass cross of red type watermelons I will get an occasional customer who says "I bought a red watermelon from you that were yellow and I loved the taste and the surprise of it all." This is something I always hope for.

Be sure to check out and support Nativeseeds/SEARCH at

A new writing opporotunity.

Recently I was given a wonderful opporotunity to be the agricultural editor of a new online news website. The web-site is called Not Just Hearsay and is a great source for local, regional, national, and world news and is ran in Scottsburg Indiana. I really appreciate the opporotunity to have another forum to educate, entertain, and inform the public about all things self-sustainable. I will be writing about one article per week and I will probably cover everything from opinion pieces, to breeding notes, to interviews and promos for other local businesses and plant breeders. I really hope everyone takes the time to check it out and I am really excited!

My article can be found by scrolling down the left hand side of the page and looking for the editorials section wherin you will find a link to agriculture.

-Alan R. Bishop

Agriculurual Editor for Not Just Hearsay!

Terms that I use in my writings which may be useful

I was over wondering around the Native Seeds/SEARCH web-site earlier and came accross a list of terms and definitions that I thought might be useful to know while reading my blogs, articles, and research papers, I thought it would be nice to post those here for folks that aren't aquainted with the lingo of farmers and plant breeders.

Accession: Plant sample, strain or population held in a genebank or breeding program for conservation or use.

Biodiversity: The total variability within and among species of all living organisms and their habitats.

Ex Situ Conservation Conservation of a plant outside of its original or natural habitat.

Genebank: Facility where germplasm is stored in the form of seeds, pollen, etc., or in the case of a field genebank, as plants growing in the field.
Gene Pool: All the genes and their different alleles present in an interbreeding population.

Genetic Diversity: The genetic variation present in a population or species.
Genetic Erosion: Loss of genetic diversity between and within populations of the same species over time or reduction of the genetic base of a species due to human intervention, environmental changes, etc.

Genetic Resources: Genetic material of plants, animals, and other organisms which is of value as a resource for present and future generations.
Genotype: 1) The genetic constitution of an organism. 2) A group of organisms with similar genetic constitutions.
Germplasm: A set of genotypes that may be conserved or used, e.g. seeds, clones, pollen.

In situ Conservation: Conservation of plants or animals in areas where they developed their distinctive properties, i.e. in the wild or in farmers' fields.
Indigenous/ local knowledge: Knowledge that develops in a particular area and accumulates over time through being handed down from generation to generation.
Landraces: Farmer-developed varieties of crop plants that are adopted to local environmental conditions.

Plant genetic resources: The genetic material of plants, which determines their characteristics and hence their ability to adapt and survive.
Regeneration: The growing out of a sample from an accession to replenish the original accession's viability.

Wild relative: A non-cultivated species which is more or less closely related to a crop species (usually in the same genus). It is not normally used for agriculture but can occur in agro-ecosystems (e.g. as a weed or a component of pasture or grazing lands).