Bean Seed Project
The Dutch Heritage
Rare Bean Seed Project
In 2018, a collaborative initiative between the Sunshine Coast Seed Saving Collective, Salt Spring Seed Sanctuary and Gibsons & District Public Library was designed to promote the new Gibsons Seed Sharing Library, which in turn aims to strengthen seed security and sovereignty on the Sunshine Coast. The initiative was called simply the "Bean Seed Project”.
It all started when well known author and Salt Spring Island seed farmer Dan Jason gifted the Collective a number of rare, heirloom bean seeds from the Dutch Gene Bank. We invited local food gardeners to help us grow out and save the seeds for our community. Thirty five gardeners responded. One Dutch seed saver, Anne, graciously researched information on the seeds because we knew nothing about them. We shared stories, photos, and a meal of bean soup to celebrate the harvest.
Today, in 2023, we encourage seed savers to continue growing out the seed so we can save this amazing diversity. We distribute the seeds in community through the Coastal seed sharing libraries and annual seed exchange. The initiative has evolved to include other rare bean seed that has been preserved on the Coast too. It is now called the "Rare Bean Seed Project".
The Bean Seeds
Can you imagine walking into a local grocery store and seeing such diversity of dry bean selections?
All of these beautiful beans are best grown out as dry bean seeds. We encourage each seed saver to keep notes on the characteristics of the plants & seeds that they grow from these seeds, because we've had to dig deep to find information on these rare beans and we would love to add what you find to our database!
Dry bush bean.
Prized for their taste, rusticity and outstanding yield. Twining stems 2 to 3 meters long. Read more about the tale of this historical bean seed below!
A beautiful variation grown by Renuka
Cerise de Japon
70-100 days to dry.
They grew over six feet tall up trellises and rewarded us with a heavy yield of beans that look like rubies. These beans pods can be eaten like snow peas when young, and are also great for sprouting, but they are mostly grown for dried beans.
Coco de Boheme
Dry bush bean.
Shrub like, (60 cm (23” high). Gives huge harvest.
Does well on loam and clay soil.
Klein Soldatenboon aka "Kleine bruine Soldaat"
In France, the “Soldaten boon” is named for the Knights of the Order of the Holy Spirit, who carried a brown-red cross. There, it is called “Haricot St-Esprit a oeil rouge”: that is, Holy Ghost (bean) with a red eye.
The markings are still visible after cooking, but the beans need to be cooked gently, as they will split and fall apart easily.
A low-height plant. Its flavor is similar to that of a chestnut mash, and consistently ranks high in flavor tests. More below..
Lekatt (Wieringer x Appaloosa)
Currently still cultivated in the Northern Netherlands (on a small scale). In the North of the country, they are sometimes sold in stores after harvest in the fall. They are also for sale at farm gates. In the rest of the country, they are difficult to find. Read more below..
aka "Rode Krobbe"
aka "Rode Krobbe"
“Rood” means “red” in Dutch and the Dutch word for “bean” is “boon”.the Dutch are very fond of “diminutives”. So “boon” is bean, and “boontje” means “little bean”. It’s clear that “beantsjes” would be the Frisian word for “little beans”. (And don’t take the “little” part too literally—it’s kind of more like an endearment when one uses the diminutive form of a word.)
The Giele Waldbeantsjes, Wieringe, Friese Woudboon, and Reade Krobbe are all varieties that come from the province of Friesland.
Bush bean, dry.
They have an exceptionally rich flavour and a meaty texture making them excellent baked or in soups stews and chilis. Dry beans were ready in 75 days, very early, and easy to pick on this 24’’ plant.
95 days to dry
This Russian Heirloom is very rare. Vigorous plants are 24” bushes and will tolerate poor soils. The seeds are a cool metallic dijon colour with a brown ring at the eye, borne in 5” green pods. These beans are best dried and wonderful in soups.
Interested in growing any of these rare, Dutch heirloom varieties of bean seeds?
Email Leonie: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Sunshine Coast Rare Bean Seeds