Full Name
Zach Elfers
Member for
1 year 9 months
I am interested in landrace gardening, growing root crops, native plants, spring ephemerals, medicinal herbs, and tree crops. I am also a "seed scout" who likes to travel, finding seeds of wild plants of promise seen from a human edible/medicinal perspective. An avid outdoorsman and naturalist, I have achieved a depth of botanical and ecological knowledge gleaned from observations in the field, as well as through books and mentors. I enjoy hiking, camping, canoeing/kayaking, and making music and crafts.

In 2018, I will be planting hicans (hybrid hickories) from seed, initializing a long-term breeding/selection plot, the benefits of which may hopefully come to fruition gradually over 15-30 years. This year, I will begin working with potatoes from true seed and initializing the beginning phases of breeding a multi-colored landrace sweet corn. I have collected over a dozen sweet potato varieties for interplanting this year, with the aim of collecting true sweet potato seed for future breeding work. I am also in the process of growing out Ipomoea pandurata and Ipomoea macrorhiza, two wild sweet potato relatives native to the southeast. Other root crops to grow out from seed this year include traveler's delight (Apios priceana), diploid groundnut (Apios americana), camas (Camassia scilloides + quamash, leichtlinii, angusta), and yampah (Perideridia americana, P. gairdneri, P. oregana, P. bolanderi). I have an ongoing project involving sunroots (Helianthus tuberosus) grown in a diversity patch for high seed production (100+ distinct genetic individuals). I am also growing American chestnuts, chinquapins, hybrid and Asian chestnuts, honey locusts, and some oak species.
Volunteer Background
I am a horticulturist, botanist, naturalist, and beginning plant breeder.
Favorite Crops & Least Favorite Crops
- Sweet Potato
- Skirret
- Camas
- Sunroot
- Ramps (Allium tricoccum)
- Cabbage
- Parsnip

Least Favorite:
- Lettuce
Growing Experience
Growing food
Starting seeds
Growing perennials
Hand pollination
Plant breeding
Time Commitment
2-5 hrs
Growing Location
Space Available
Small field (10,001 sq. ft. - 1 acre)
Soil Details
Soil on various parcels ranges from alkaline clay, to fertile circum-neutral soils, to slightly sour, and acidic.
Possible GMOs in the neighborhood...
Other relevant information
I don't own any land myself, but have the good fortune of some friendships which give me access to several different pieces of land. Therefore I grow out things in multiple locations as best as I am able. I will list details for 5 parcels:

1) 12 acre wooded property with several thousand square feet of sunny garden space, and a greenhouse. Of the garden space, I have access to a few rows here and there, potentially totaling up to several hundred square feet. Zone 6b.
2) 55 + 160 acre properties divided between woodlands and meadows. Zone 5.
3) 160 acre deer-exclosed chemical free ex-farmland mowed a few times annually. Seems to be fairly well-sheltered from any neighboring GMO crops including corn. Zone 7.
4) 140 acre chemical-free ex-farmland now mowed a few times annually. Nearby GMO corn but sheltered on all sides by forest buffer. Zone 6.
5) 4 acre southern sunny clay-soil yard, with a small garden space. Zone 7b.
Nut and fruit tree cultivation