Thursday, December 18, 2014

Landrace article – from the plant side [A Ralph Post]

This is a short follow up to Fiona's Landrace article – from the plant side. Bill Best from Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center in Berea, KY has traveled the Southern Appalachians looking for family heirlooms. He has an impressive collection for sale on . The thing that caught my attention right away was the names of the beans and tomatoes. There is: Betsy Burner Bean, Bill Stumbo Half-Runner, Georgia Half-Runner, Josephine Jackson Half-Runner, Larry Phillips Half-Runner, Barnes Mountain, Breathitt Produce Market Bean, Grandma Barnett Bean. A lot of his varieties are named after the person, family, location, or whatever that the seed came from. Not all of them were named this way, but a lot were. Some of the varieties have been grown by a family or in a community for a hundred to a hundred fifty years. The family would save seed this year to grow next year. They would always save their best fruits for next years seed. In this way, a variety would become “localized”. The seed would become “tolerant” over years to a locations heat, soils, moistures, cultivation habits, and everything within its environment. It would become a Landrace variety. This is how a Landrace variety is created.

I hope Mr. Best doesn't mind my plagiarizing his writing, but this illustrates how a Landrace can be formed:

Vinson Watts Tomato

Offered for the first time in 2006, this tomato has proven to be quite popular with many people in many places.  Prior to his death in March, 2008, Vinson Watts had improved his namesake tomato for 52 summers.  The original seed was from Lee County, Virginia and was given to him by his work supervisor at Berea College, Wilson Evans.  Those interested in the story of this tomato can look it up on the internet since several articles in newspapers and magazines have been written about Watts and his tomato.  The tomato is a large pink tomato flavored with an excellent balance of sugars and acids.  It is also the most disease resistant tomato I have grown, the result of all those summers of selection for flavor, texture, and disease resistance.

One of our Vinson Watts

For 52 summers, he selected the best for flavor, texture, and disease resistance. That is why we grow our own food. That is why we select the best to regrow next year. We grow for us! In our area of the world! Mr. Watts did this for 52 summers. This is why a family grows a variety for a hundred years. Their seed is adapted to their location. And the family hasn't been able to find anything better than what they have been growing for a hundred years.
We have numerous beans and tomatoes from Sustainable Mountain that we grew last year. We intend to grow more of them this coming summer. We have no choice. Fiona made a tomato sauce that is THE best I have ever had anywhere. It is strong and tangy and very tasty, very tomatoey. The problem is: She doesn't know how she made it! She called it “Everyone into the Pool”. We have to experiment to see if we can duplicate last years success. She called it that because she had a bunch of different tomatoes left over and she just threw them all in together. Hence: “Everyone into the Pool”. She put in Sutton's White, Grant County Pink, Orange Oxheart, Basin Mountain Tommy Toe, Black Pear, Yellow German Dunham Variant, Jerusalem, Vinson Watts, and we don't know what all else. She included the peels and seeds (no straining) because we wanted all the nutrients. They didn't hurt the end product. They were hardly noticeable. We think an immersion blender next year may help with consistency. We are for always experimenting. And learning.

Until the next time, may God bless you more than He has us.

1 comment:

  1. You have to really admire a man who could focus on one tomato for 52 years. I love reading a good heirloom seed catalog - the names are wonderful and give you a good feeling about the people who nurtured them through the years. I will have to check Sustainable Mountain to see if they have varieties that will hold up to our climate. I can wholeheartedly recommend an immersion blender! I use mine constantly, and it makes sauces and blends so easy.