Appalachian Bean Project

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The Appalachian Bean Project

The Appalachian region has a fantastic seed heritage, with many generational farms saving and cultivating their own family seed. With changes in farming practices and general attitudes to food and seeds, some of these varieties have been lost and some are still threatened.

Beans in particular are well loved and there is a great diversity in our local region. Haywood and Madison County have especially rich bean history, but WNC in general boasts an unparalleled diversity of beans.

We have started the Appalachian Bean Project to take on the stewardship of some of these rare and excellent varieties and to offer them to the wider gardener populace. Through attending seed swaps, reaching out to farmers and becoming known as responsible and sustainable seed savers, we are beginning to collect some really fun varieties.

How to Participate

If you order any of our special Appalachian Bean Project beans, we will send you a trial form. This is optional, but we would love to hear your feedback and personal experiences about these beans to help us get some better information on these special heirlooms.

Offerings for 2016

Below you can see a selection of four greasy bean varieties from Bill Best’s collection. Bill Best is an legendary Appalachian seed saver and we are extremely pleased to be growing some of his special varieties.

Nantahala White Half Runner

This heirloom seed stock was sent to us by James Morgan of Marble, NC where he reports that his family has been growing it for generations. In our research of the bean, we were surprised to find that is seems to be a prized bean of many families in the Nantahala Valley area. We were also interested to find that it is in fact a Half Runner, and not the pole type that Mr. Morgan thought. This is due to its vigorous habit of climbing everything it can touch, which luckily as a grower, yields you many pounds of beans per plant. Pick often when beans are small, as they become tough if allowed to mature on the vine.

Cherokee Trail of Tears

This year we are growing out the well known Cherokee Trail of Tears bean. This heirloom was brought from Tennessee by the Cherokee people as they were marched to Oklahoma by the Federal Government in 1839 over the infamous “Trail of Tears” that left so many dead and suffering. It is a beautiful purple pole bean with a purple pod!

This is another bean that we received from Bill Best and are happy to be supporting his work with heirloom and Appalachian beans. Hopefully in the coming years we will be able to offer this bean and others as part of our seed catalog.

If you have a bean that you would like us to steward or a story to share, then please email



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