Ancient Fava Beans. Thousands of years old and still going strong. They were cultivated in the Middle East, carried over through Europe, and have been found in some of the earliest excavated settlements. Wikipedia says “In Egypt, the beans were considered commoner food and were shunned by the upper classes” Today, You can find gourmet dishes and recipes that are fit for an epicure such as “Fava and Mint Pesto”, “Mexican Fava Bean Soup”, and “Warm Wheat Berry Salad with Fava and Trout Roe”. I had a hard time finding out if anybody grows Fava beans in my area of North Carolina, even my County Extension Agent had to resort to the internet to help me answer my question. North Carolina is temperate in nature and has three distinct growing seasons suitable for food production. Fava beans in the north are traditionally planted in fall, but they can be planted in very early spring in warm climates, so I decided to try it for myself and see if it could be done.
I planted 15 Beans purchased from the “ultimate” heirloom variety catalog, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange They have some heirloom seeds that can be traced back generations to Thomas Jefferson of Monticello, white flour corn from the Cherokee Native Americans, Watercress (creasy greens) a variety that kept shipwrecked sea mariners alive over the winter on Belle Isle. There is a story behind the “Turkey Gizzard” variety of pole beans that the two beans were found in the craw of a wild turkey in the early 1800’s and they were planted, and saved and spread across a region. Through the medium of seed savers and generations of families saving the “seeds that PaPa planted” we still in the age of wild genetic manipulation of original seed stock can still have a piece of what I consider “living history”.
I am excited to see if 80 -90 days from now if the Favas will produce flowers and beans, so stay tuned for more updates on how they do in the early spring. Also, think about becoming a seed saver, it can be as simple as choosing one variety to plant year after year for your family that can become a tradition,… you never know where a seed might go!