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.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2011 Bishop's Homegrown Farmstand Credit Opporotunity

We got so much play from this option last year and such fantastic feedback from local customers that we have decided to offer this option once again this season! Definitely check it out if you live local and join up! If nothing else pass it around to others who might be interested! Thanks Guys!

-Alan Bishop

Bishop’s Homegrown Farm Stand Credit Program!

Bishop’s Homegrown is a small “Eco-Logical” and self sustainable farm in the town of Pekin Indiana. We are family owned and a fourth generation farm focused on providing quality produce from yesteryear as well as the new food and flower crops of the future to our valued friends and community members. We use the strictest possible organic guidelines for on farm food production and make no exceptions. We feel that it is of utmost importance that locavores, members of the slow food movement, and community members, know who and from where their food comes from and how it is grown. We produce 90% of our own seed crops as well as 100% of our own organic fertilizer and we never ever opt for chemical options to control pests or disease issues on farm, feeling that growing food “eco-logically” is the only alternative to our failing food system in the United States. We have searched the world over to bring you the most unique, exciting, and rare food crops from diverse cultures the world over with an emphasis on nutrition and taste! Our doors are always open to our community and customers who we encourage to visit the farm in order to see and know where and how their food was grown. Food security begins when a relationship is formed between the community and its farmers, this essential connection is what allowed civilization to flourish 10,000 years ago. This year we would like to introduce you to our farmstand credit program which we feel you will find immense value in!

The Farm Stand Credit Program:
The concept of Community Supported Agriculture (AKA. CSA) is generally defined as a mutually beneficial arrangement between a farmer and his customer wherein the customer agrees to share in the risks and rewards of local farming for the benefit of their food production and the farmers well being. The CSA consumers become by proxy shareholders in the farm and it’s well being by paying an upfront “membership“ due which covers the production of food in a “share“ system. Generally a traditional CSA allows for the consumer to pay for up front costs of the farmers start up cost with the farmer reciprocating by preparing a pre-determined amount of produce every week through the growing season which the shareholders pick up once a week. The farmer generally picks the produce that the customer will receive.

This year Bishop’s Homegrown is looking to create a viable alternative to the traditional CSA program by creating a farm stand coupon program which will allow customers to still share in helping us get our business going during the part of the season in which seed and implements and other essentials are being purchased while also making the relationship more convenient for the farmer and the shareholders.

In this arrangement, instead of the farmer putting together a box of produce weekly he has selected for you you will instead receive “credit” from our farm which will allow you to visit our farm stand or farm where you can make your selection of produce that we have available including also a selection of seedlings, nursery stock, seeds, compost, poultry, meat, animals and other items from our farm. This gives you the opportunity to decide what you want instead of us deciding what you want. Every $100 you invest will also get you a 10% discount which means that you will actually get 10% more produce for your food dollars.

Our produce will be available to you via the Washington County Indiana farmers market held at the fairgrounds in Salem Indiana on Saturday Mornings from 8 AM to 12 PM. Occasionally we also will be available at the Wednesday market operating during the same hours. Credit is also redeemable at our roadside stand in the town of Peking or on farm. It is important to note that we don’t usually deal in custom ordered bulk produce on a normal basis (i.e., a bushel beans, or a bushel of corn) but that when these items are available at market, as they often are, your credit can be used to purchase them as well.


How much does it cost?

The investment levels start at 50.00. An investment at the 100 dollar or above level will earn you a 10% discount which means that an investment at the $100 level only costs you $90! That’s right; $100 dollars of credit only costs $90! That’s essentially the same as getting $10 of produce free just for paying ahead of time! Your credit is good for two years which means that whatever isn’t spent this season can be carried over to next season!
The maximum investment is $500.

Here is the layout:
$50 credit for $50
$100 credit for $90
$200 credit for $180
$300 credit for $270
$400 credit for $360
$500 credit for $450

How will we keep track of your credit?

Good old fashioned pen and pencil, anytime you make a purchase we will deduct that price from our ledger. You will receive a receipt after each transaction so you too can keep track of the amount of produce purchased.

What if I make it to market late and you are out of what I want?
Unfortunately this may happen from time to time which is why we are keeping the investment level low to start with. Sometimes we just flat out run out of an item due to popularity. The best bet is to show up to market early, the best of the best goes quickly! There are occasions when we may not be able to make it to market from time to time due to emergencies or just the need to take a break here and there but we will inform you a few days ahead of time via e-mail (unless it’s a last minute emergency) that we will not be at market in the coming week.

This year our primary market residency will be here on the farm as well, so if you miss us at market or we won't be there you can just stop by the farm pretty much any day of the week!

What can I purchase with Bishop’s homegrown credit? Does this offer only include produce?

No, any item we bring to market or sale on farm is eligible for purchase via this credit, including seeds, plants, seedlings, poultry (chicks), occasionally rabbits, compost, fishing worms, handcrafts or any other product we have at market or our farm stand. We also occasionally have winter produce available and this Thanksgiving and Christmas we will for the first time be offering butchered heritage turkeys.
When is payment due and how do I pay, when does credit take effect?

Payment is due by the end of March in order that we know what we have in the bank and can plan accordingly. Payment can be made by check, money order, or well concealed cash. Credit takes effect the first Saturday of May, in conjunction with the opening of the farmers market.

Make checks or money orders payable to:
Alan Bishop

And send to:
Alan Bishop
5604 S. State Rd. 60
Pekin IN 47165

Also include a note with your full name, address, e-mail address, phone number and a list of people who you will allow to purchase items with your credit if you need to send someone to the farm stand in your place!

How can I learn more about Bishop’s Homegrown and follow the on farm developments?

We invite you to come and take a tour of our small farm at any time you would like to learn more about us or at any point during the growing season, before, after, or even if you don’t join the credit opportunity. We also maintain a blog at where we often write research articles, report about our plant breeding and poultry breeding projects, explain our on farm techniques and more. As well we run a small message board for experimental gardeners and plant breeders located at as well as our local harvest site located at

We should also point out that farm tours are available to those interested at any time in the growing season…
Please feel free to pass this around to others who might be interested in joining this unique opportunity.
Feel free to contact us at:
Alan Bishop

Monday, January 24, 2011

Farmscape press release.

The world is litterally changing in front of us on many levels, economically and eco-conciously. A primary example of the new paridigm is the idea of "farmscaping". Imagine the services of a landscaper used instead for growing and tending a backyard garden. Personally I'm more for a personally tended garden, but for those who can't physically maintain their own gardens or those who simply don't have the time this is a viable alternative that gives you fresh food, involves eco-logical decision making, and puts farmers to work.

Anyhow, I thought the concept was pretty cool and thought I would share it here. Who knows, there may be an opporotunity for a farmer out there to start a similar business to this in the midwest or maybe there are some readers who could put a company like this to good use, I really enjoy what they are doing greatly

Rachael Bailin was kind enough to send along this press release and link to Farmscape. Thanks for informing us friend!

Farmscape Harvests Ten Thousand Pounds of Backyard Produce

LOS ANGELES January 24, 2011

Farmscape, a start-up farming venture in Los Angeles, has recorded its ten thousandth pound of unconventional urban harvest. The company tracks its harvest tally on its online yield tracker, an estimate for how much food it has grown on behalf of clients in their own backyards. Farmscape maintains the tally as a public record of their effort to change the way LA sources its food. Farmscape has been recording yield since it first began growing food for clients in Claremont, CA two years ago.

The company builds and then maintains intensive urban gardens for homeowners, producing impressive yields of fruits and vegetables for clients to prepare and eat fresh-picked out of their own yards. Their service lets participants enjoy the benefits of skilled homestead vegetable farming without requiring them to become expert gardeners. All it takes to join their service is some sunny square footage and access to irrigation.

For a large-scale farmer, ten thousand pounds might be a rounding error in a season's harvest. But for Farmscape, ten thousand pounds demonstrates the potential for a whole new method of food production for Los Angeles.

Farmscape's mission is to increase the accessibility of ecologically responsible homegrown produce in cities and suburbs. By offering to farm small-scale produce for city residents, Farmscape’s founders aim to remove food distribution from the food supply. Local food advocates often promote home produce cultivation for providing fresher and safer food than conventional production and distribution while costing less ultimate environmental impact. Farmscape founders find LA’s mild Mediterranean climate and expansive lot sizes uniquely attractive for such local food cultivation. They hope to demonstrate a sustainable silver lining in the city's often-disparaged urban sprawl: wide open spaces for intensive gardening.

"We're proposing a new, disaggregated model for farming that can accommodate the city grid," explained Jesse DuBois, co-founder of the business. "Long ago these Southern Californian valleys were all under plough. We want to bring farming back to these tracts of land that have been left fallow by residential development and the reign of traditional lawn culture."

The only reason freshly gardened vegetables are not the default for Los Angeles households is that city culture has traded away the time and knowledge required to garden. That's why DuBois and his partners started Farmscape, a pay-for-service to bring back the joy of local gardening. They want big participation. DuBois hopes hired urban farmers are one day as common as pool maintainers and "mow-and-blow" landscapers. He believes such a future would do wonders for the city’s diet.

“We want our clients to be free to enjoy wholesome, fresh-picked heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, cauliflower, and cantaloupe as casually as they can access fast food or processed snacks,” explained Sean Williams, another co-founder and weekly farmer for West LA.


Contact: Rachel Bailin // (310) 694-8474 // // 2122 Hillhurst Ave Suite A, Los Angeles, CA 90027 //

Phillip Forsline and Kazak apples!

Don't know how it is that I missed this before, but theres an awesome interview with my friend Phillip Forsline, previously of ARS GRIN Geneva, speaking about the wonderful Kazak apples he was kind enough to share with me last year and which make up the majority of his lifes work at the Geneva research center.

The link is to an MP3 file on this page towards the bottom: The Big Apple Family

Friday, January 21, 2011

Effect and Cause....

Editors note: It has come to my attention that some may have taken my comments on the Organic Seed Aliance the wrong way. This was not my intention in any way shape or form whatsoever. I have strong faith and conviction in what the Organic Seed Aliance does, instead of critisizing them for the use of the word "organic" I was trying to make a comment on the way the public percieves the word "organic" and "USDA certification" as a gold standard as it were. I am in no way critical of what the OSA stands for and wish them all the best of luck with what they do, I simply want others to be aware that with the skewed USDA rules organic certification doesn't mean much, if anything at all.

Just spent my morning reading a ton of articles and blog posts about the USDA's suggestion that there be co-existence between organic and GMO. What can I say about it? Really, other than calling a spade a spade and stating some obvious things, I'd just say it's more bullshit propaganda.

The USDA is pushing it as it's next big idea, the next "good" thing their "solid" and "scientific" research can bring to us. Right, like they haven't ever sold us ideas as good that turned out to be absolute trash over the past 100 years. But that's beside the point, everyone knows Tom Vilsak is a Monsanto lackey, no need to tell you, the intelligent reader, what an ass kissing, suck up, profit driven, corporate piece of trash he is! Right?

Really, what we are looking at here is the tide changing in this country, people waking up and realizing that things are amiss in our world and realizing that genetic modification is just one of many agitators in the system. So let's take a look at some of the more important and bizarre issue brought up in the discussion.

First you will notice that the two parties that are mentioned in the media are organic farmers (as in USDA certified) and conventional farmers using GMO seeds, putting the attention on the farmer sort of breaks the fall of the transnationals right? As long as there is a perceived animosity between the two types of farmers they will always have a watchful eye on each other, and as human history proves time and again, when there is suspicion of harmful activity it usually escalates the situation in some form or another. Here we would have neighbor vs neighbor, or so the USDA and the corporations would have us believe. That said, I don't blame the farmers for this at all, in general of the many farmers I know here locally the vast majority running larger farms either regret signing their name away to the corporations or just don't know how they would make it economically if they had to look at things from and eco-logical perspective.

You might also have notice that they use "Organic" farmers as opposed to naturally grown, or eco-logically grown, or any other word to denote who has a "say" in this fight. Just like the 3'd political party in the US it seems no one else gets a say, this keeps rebels like us, the free thinkers, the ones who realize that the USDA Organic Standard is a joke in terms of sustainability and *gasp* definitions of what is organic. Really in a lot of ways, the organic standard only works for corporations with the money to actually keep up with certifying every crop they grow.

Yes, I know, a myriad of seed companies are organically certified, and at heart that's what this fight is all about, their right to grow organic seeds without cross contamination, I get it, but by buying into the USDA's organic standards and following only those rules and regulations instead of using independent and clear judgment of humanity as the standard they are only playing into a loosing corporate game, one that locks seed producers who are a bit rebellious such as myself and other "eco" growers out of the equation, in a fight like this they need all the help they can get.

By far however, the most disturbing part of the whole ordeal (other than obvious backroom deals and open doors between the USDA and various transnationals) is the type of philosophy I've been reading today coming from the GMO propaganda machine; comments like "Their pollen cand destroy transgenic crops as well." For example, there was a story about an organic farmer and a conventional (How the hell did the green revolution become so "conventional" or "traditional" to begin with? Plant the seed and the idea grows I suppose) farmer were growing sunflowers next to one another. The organic farmer for cut flowers, the conventional farmer for feed crop, pollen from the open pollinated ornamental flowers got into the field of the farmer growing the feed sunflowers. Supposedly the farmers got together to avoid a lawyer and the conventional farmer gave the organic one pollen less (yes, sterile) seed to grow. According to the GMO lackeys, this is a solution! A real solution! Oh, shit, yeah, that's right, except for the fact that this all started over SEED to begin with. How the hell is that a solution?

But see, these people don't think about that sort of thing, they are all mixed up and don't understand effect and cause, at least not on any logical level of reality. There is a song from the White Stripes called "Effect and Cause" that sums it up quite succinctly I think;

I guess you have to have a problem
If you want to invent a contraption
first you cause a train wreck
And then you put me in traction
well first came an action
And then a reaction
But you can't switch around
For your own satisfaction
Well you burnt my house down
Then got mad at my reaction

Well in every complicated situation
There's a human relation
Making sense of it all
Take a whole lot of concentration
Well you can blame the baby
For her pregnant ma
And if there's one of these unavoidable laws

It's just that you can't just take the effect and make it the cause

Well you can't take the effect
And make it the cause
I didn't rob a bank
because you made up the law
Blame me for robbing peter
Don't you blame Paul
Can't take the effect
And make it the cause

Oh, and BTW, as a proponent of the natural course of human agriculture, living in a reality based in the soil, the air, the water, and the land, as someone who sees the beauty of the natural world coupled with the ability of man to manipulate plants in only the ways allowed by natural evolutionary factors, I can promise you, there is an army of people like me, willing to do whatever legally possible to keep "co-existence" from ever being accepted as the "status quo".

-Alan Reed Bishop

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

11" X 17" Bishop's Homegrown Posters!

The always amazing, equally astonishing, super awesome, Mary Deem Feifer who made this awesome sketch for us based on a painting she is now working on recently sent us an awesome gift of 125 copies in 11"x17" format to help promote the business this year! We would love to share them with you guys so we are making them available in a limited number edition to those interested.

I can't say near enough kind words about Mary, it's hard to find friends like her who "get it". Every idea that I give her when it comes to art she immediately understands, even when I'm not so clear with my descriptions and ideas, she still nails it, I sometimes think she is telepathic, but more likely it's that she is insanely talented!

3.00 Each here at the farm or market 5.00 shipped. Hurry they will go quick! Send well concealed cash to:
Alan Bishop
5604 S. State Rd. 60
Pekin IN 47165

A Few Good Plants: A damn good seed source!

Recently Stuart stopped by Homegrown Goodness to update us on his awesome little seed company. We grew a bit of seed in 2010 to share with our good frined this year and are extremely proud to see some of our varieties offered through his amazing little seed company! We hope to continue the tradition next year and in time we have spoken of trying to create a web of bio-regional seed companies that link together and share breeding projects, the west coast is obviously already well supplied, I know of a few on the east coast and a couple in the south, we are hoping that Face Of The Earth and A Few Good Plants can fill in the mid-west gap!

Anyhow, here is Stuart's update in case you missed it:

Greetings to all on the forum.

This year's website and photo essay are finally on-line at .

First, thanks to all of the seed trialers here, and for your progress reports.

Thanks to close-by neighbors and farmer/seedsavers:

Jim and Robbins Hail of Bear Creek Farms for growing out Bear Creek, Yoder's German Yellow, Rose Quartz X Black Cherry and Virginia Sweet tomatoes, as well as the Mexican June corn.

M Simrell for growing out our Dugat's Yellow Cornmeal corn.

Not as close, but still much appreciated, growers Alan Bishop, Dr. Alan Kapuler, Wildgarden Seeds, and Horizen Herbs.

Thanks to Laura Phillips for photos of my garden.

For individual variety photos, a thank you to:

Alan Bishop

Susan Anderson, South East Texas Tomato Festival (SETTFest) .

Tatiana Kouchnareva

And a heads up to all about the importance of Farm (or garden) grown and saved seeds. Please read: Acres USA Seeds of Sustainability: Preserving The Past One Plant At A Time,

Now, a progress report from SW Missouri.

We grew two dent corns that did quite well, Dugat's Yellow cornmeal corn, and Mexican June. We also have seeds for Alan's Astronomy Domine Sweet Corn.

Our best tomato producer, again this year, was Old Brooks. For a container tomato, the variety Mini Rose did very well, and has a great flavor. Our neighbor's Bear Creek and Yoder's German Yellow tomatoes are great slicers, and very good producers, as well, at least in our region.

We grew the pea variety, Amplissimo Viktoria Ukrainskaya, this year to see how a soup pea variety would grow here, and it produced very well. Some of the plants did have some powdery mildew, but that didn't seem to hurt production very much. We also grew the Blizzard snow pea, and it did very well for us for the third year in a row, but we did not grow enough to sell any seed. I plan to grow it for seed this spring. (Fedco Seeds still has seed available, as of today, January 11, 2011.)

We grew Burpee's Butterbush winter squash this year, and we were very impressed with its performance. The first squash mature here in 70 or 75 days from transplant, and they kept producing for us until first frost.

We're selling Alan's selection of Long Island Cheese squash, too.

The only green bean we grew this year was the Ga-Ga Hut pinto bean. We've grown this bean for about 10 years now, and it always does well. It's mainly a dry bean, maturing in 70 days, but the young pods are also good as snap beans.

There's another variety that we have great expectations for, Dr. Alan Kapuler's "Three Root Grex Beet". Dr. Kapuler's description: "An interbreeding mix of three distinctive cultivars, Crosby Egyptian Purple Heirloom, Lutz Overwintering Heirloom and Yellow Intermediate Mangel Heirloom." Our seeds this year come from Peace Seeds, but we've grown this variety several times and it does very well in both spring and fall plantings. If our beets overwinter, we hope to have Missouri grown seeds next year.

Best wishes to all of you (and your gardens) in 2011.

Read more:

Shameless promotion in exchange for free swag!

Yeah, I admit it, I'm a sucker for free swag, but only free swag that I would actually use! Recently the opporotunity to link to a company that I've done business with before ( came along in my email from a very nice lady. A simple offer really, post a link to us under the heading bumper stickers and we will send you free swag that you can design yourself!
Well O-Kay then! Gladly. Seriously though guys, I wouldn't post this if I didn't think some of you other farmers market venders and seed sellers couldn't make great use of this service or if this was not a quality product, and trust me, you don't have to worry ever about this site becoeming one big advertising agregator.
Now that we essentially have the intro out of the way, it was a pleasure to work with these guys designing some cool stuff to promote Bishop's Homegrown/Face Of The Earth Seed Co. I got two banners that you can see above (sorry for the cropped pick of the one, but it's hanging in the hallway and I couldn't stand far enough away to get the whole image) to promote us more visably at the farmers market. I also snagged two pretty sweet parking signs which now decorate the drive in front of the peasant barn and one on the wall inside the peasant barn. All three items are exceedingly high quality just like the truck signs and other things I've ordered from them from over the years and I can't say enough about their service really.
Anyhow, check it out if you need some promo items!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Enochian Key: The why's and hows of creating a landrace.

It is often asked of myself and fellow plant breeders such as Joseph Lofthouse what the definition of land race is, or more definitively what our definition of land race might indeed be since it seems to differ in the opinion of some from the definition provided by common sources.

First we must look at the standard definition of land race. Since I am entirely to lazy at the moment to look it up properly in the dictionary, the generic definition from Wikipedia will have to suffice.

A landrace is a local variety of a domesticated animal or plant species which has developed largely by natural processes, by adaptation to the natural and cultural environment in which it lives. It differs from a formal breed which has been bred deliberately to conform to a particular standard type. Landraces are usually more genetically and physically diverse than formal breeds. Many formal breeds originated from landraces, and sometimes a particular type has both landrace and formal breed populations. Sometimes a formalised breed retains the "landrace" name, despite no longer being a true landrace.

Where people seem to have a problem with the term Landrace as used by this breeder and many others at Homegrown Goodness
is in our insistence that new landrace varieties can be and are being developed, even if by the traditional sense of the word our new genepools can't be defined as landraces as we speak.

To truly understand what is meant by us when we speak of breeding landraces we need to take a look at the methodology behind breeding a new landrace. First off however it is important for us to come to a conclusion about the current state of the seed industry and why intrepid breeders have decided to persue the mixing of genetics.

The heirloom seed movement may have started in the 1970's with the "back to the land" crowd but didn't hit full stride until probably about 1999-2005 when the term went main stream via the media. This was a boon to those of us interested in bio-diversity and genetic preservation, suddenly we had access to genetics that we were never able to access before, particularly because of the profusion of botanically related words and definitions in the media but also because the Internet allowed us to network in ways not previously possible. All of these things are greatly beneficial to the average gardener, market gardener, and plant breeder, but some of us dream of possibilities beyond the next hill in the road.

There is no doubt the amount of diversity being offered by both conventional companies such as Burpee as well as the myriad of small heirloom seed companies is much greater than what has been commonly available before and that there is indeed a parallel between these small companies and the companies of 100 years ago, but one valuable little advantage is missing. The missing component is the bio-regionally based seed company.

Take for example a company such as Baker Creek Seeds, a good company no doubt, with a diverse offering of many types of seed from all over the world, a feat not easily accomplished by just any small seed company and something to be admired for sure. Of course the original branch of Bakers Creek is located in the Ozarks but they markets seed worldwide and often those stocks are amplified by growers in diverse climates, presumably climates and regions scattered across the US, sometimes climates completely different from their point of origin.

On the other hand 100 years ago the intrepid small seed company endeavored to serve the bio-region in which it was located, perhaps a three to four state swath with climates at least similar enough to allow for the overlapping of farmers seed repatoirs between states. The seed was often grown by the seed house selling the seed and the selections were most often varieties well adapted to the bio-region where they were being marketed and often times were made up of "folk varieties" from samples sent to the company via "farmer John". This gave everyone access to varieties very well suited to the local climate, varieties likely selected under very similar stresses and advantages to the ones the crops would experience in your garden, if you yourself saved those seeds for a few years they would be further adapted to your very own micro-climate and would likely out perform the seeds sold to you originally by the company they were purchased from.

There is a related parable here in the form of local "folk" varieties and their reliability. At one point in time (prior green revolution) it is likely that most bio-regions had multiple repetoirs of locally adapted varieties sourced via trades beteen friends and neighbors. This is to say that each bio-region had a preferred watermelon, tomato, corn, bean, ext and many times these varieties were made up of a mixed heritage or mixed bag of genetics. True folk landraces which lent horizontal resistance to disease and from which the lives of many people were nourished and which upon each successive generation became further adapted to the climate they were grown in. The Ozarks and Appalachians are excellent examples of such bio-regionally adapted landraces. Every family had their own version of "greasy beans", many of which were likely simple selections from a wider landrace of varieties grown endemically in the region.

Of course native tribes the world over, the very founders of civilization at the dawn of such relied on such varieties. It was well known that crops crossed back and forth even if the method thereof was not well understood and the cultural mixing of seeds was often practiced much to the advantage of the farmers culturing the new stocks. This was the "status quo" of plant breeding for nearly 10,000 years and is still what we find today when we look to the history books as well as the native population of any particular bio-region. It was a simple fact of observation that diverse crops gave more options in terms of disease resistance, production, and hardiness as opposed to deeply inbreed lines. This was the earliest form of plant breeding, population breeding which gave rise to those landraces as defined above and it is this which we are trying to recreate.

This is not the case in today's world, for the most part (though there is a positive movement towards small bio-regional seed companies growing 90-100% of their own seeds). For example, though Baker Creek is located in the Ozarks they only offer a simple handful of varieties adapted to that bio-region. The biggest fallacy of the entire heirloom community (and I am talking purists here, plant snobs as we have discussed before) is that all heirlooms are created equally in diverse climates when in fact this is not the case, a plant from India will not grow as well or adapt as readily to Indiana as a variety originally sourced from a local bio-region. In other words high dessert crops don't grow well in the deep south and deep south crops don't do well in the middle east.

Of course someone with a bit of time on their hands and a penchant for deep research could locate the locally adapted landraces or selections thereof, if they still exist, but the simple sad fact is that most of them that do still "exist" are either out crossed and no longer matching description and thus no longer very well adapted to their "homeland" or they are so inbred as to be considered useless, more often however they were simply widely discarded by well meaning farmers who listened too intently to the local extension office when "new" and "improved" hybrids were introduced.

Thus is is up to the intrepid farmer (who by definition is a seed saver and by proxy a plant breeder) to find a solution to the dilemma.

There are two steps in our creation of new landraces here at Hip-Gnosis (R&D of Face Of The Earth/Bishop's Homegrown). The first is the creation of a "genepool" or an admixture of varieties which have the potential to contribute some traits which we think may be useful in the development of a new and very bio-diverse landrace.

We scour the gene banks, trade lists, seed companies, and local folk resources for whatever might be of use to us, mixing seeds of such varieties together in roughly equal amounts, this sometimes includes even commercial hybrids who' gentics themselves are largely the result of past generations of folk breeders and then plant them in blocks in the field, trying to encourage pollination by whatever means the variety of plant at hand needs for pollination; wind, insects, exct.

At the end of the year we evaluate the fruit of such labors for all qualities agronomic, culinary, and storage/other saving the seed from only the best performers which will once again be blended together in the next years crop in equal amounts.

Years of this same method of selection eliminates some of the genetic diversity which is deleterious in our particular climate while enhancing what is useful to our tastes and needs while allowing for a very diverse phenotype well adapted to our climate. This is the very definition of landrace.

Of course in the end it's all based on preference and that's the beautiful thing about what we do here, every year we create new genepools and send them out to others via trades or the catalog in the early filial generations, when they may still be selected in climates opposite of our own giving rise to multiple landraces or individual selections adapted to different bio-regions while continuing our own work within the genepool until we have selected our own locally adapted landrace.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Review: Tobacco Culture The Cultivators Handbook Of Natural Tobacco by Bill Drake

Shortly before Christmas I was able to contact author Bill Drake, one of the few men brave enough to author authoritative books on the cultivation of two of the gods gifts to man; Marijuana and Tobacco. Bill was gracious enough to send me a copy of his newly revised and much expanded "The Cultivators Handbook Of Natural Tobacco" for review and reference.

It would be hard to imagine that one could find a more concise and helpful manual for the cultivation of this wonderful ethenogen which we humans have found use for over the past couple thousand years and which the Native Americans shared so freely with us upon our arrival here in the New World. It need not be said but the United States of 1700's-1900's owes much of it's economic gains and relevance to this plant.

Bill gives us the rundown here; history, cultural relevance, uses, seeding, planting, topping, suckering, curing, fermenting, and flavoring all in his wonderful and personable tone of writing. It's not so much like reading as it is like having Bill stand in front of "class" and relate to us why we might want to raise this controversial crop, how to do so, and how to possibly reap the financial gain from the crop as well as why we should grow such wares to if nothing else alleviate the world of the commercial beast that has overtaken this wonderful form of plant.

Make no mistake about it though, he's not advocating abuse, nor really use, just making us well aware that it's here to stay and what might prompt one to try tobacco, particularly Natural tobaccos and to be even more precise, the more psychoactive forms once enjoyed by Native Americans in both the north and south in their very diverse forms. Even though Bill is "teaching" us through the text it never feels like he's forcing us to listen or treating us as though we are his students, simply instead this modern day Shaman is sharing his Gnosis (knowledge) with the uninitiated. Beautifully I might add.

Oh, did I mention indoor growers that he also caters some information for your particular setup? Something your unlikely to find elsewhere in pertinence to tobacco.

Bill also gives us all the info needed (to the uninitiated I might add as plant breeders have had access for some time) to access some rare varieties of tobacco housed by the USDA's ARS GRIN germplasm program and even gives us a wonderful source of digital documents in the public domain related to all areas of tobacco farming and processing. The mid-section of the book gives us excerpts from many of these digitally archived and long out of print publications.

The later section of the book gives us a personal look into the negatives of pursuing the addiction of commercial tobaccos from Bill's own familial experience loosing loved ones to addiction, giving us a final bit of much needed information to inform our judgement of plant and farmer vs. business men and government.

All in all a well rounded manual which could play an important part in the liberation of smokers as well as the economic freedom of farmers and a valuable addition to the library of any Shaman.

An absolute must have for anyone preparing for the proverbial SHTF moment as well. Five stars.

-Alan Reed Bishop
Bishop's Homegrown