Heirloom Dry Beans, a Coastside Tradition
According to some of our neighbors, many farms in the Pescadero area grew dry beans a couple decades ago. Also according to local lore, our foggy and cool climate leads to a slower dry down that results in exceptionally tender and unusually tasty beans. So watch out Rancho Gordo, Pescadero represent! We’re following in the footsteps of quite a local tradition.
Tom Phipps, our neighbor and the owner of Phipps Country Store, made quite a name for himself growing dry beans. He used to ship all over the US, and grew more types of beans than it is possible to imagine. When we first started farming in Pescadero, he could usually be found on rainy days in one of the back sheds among his barrels full of beans sorting, cleaning, and–like we like to do too–relishing in the beauty and diversity of the legume family. His store was a local landmark for years and carried dozens of varieties of beans, some of which were his own varieties- bred and developed over the decades. Although the store has since closed and Mr Phipps finally retired, he generously passed down some of his precious varieties. Our Tan Runner Beans, Pebble Beans, and Old Indian Woman Beans come from him.
The Lacopi Family in Half Moon Bay has also made a bit of a niche for themselves growing a couple types of dry and shelling beans. Their Cranberry beans and Italian Butter Beans are renowned throughout the Bay Area… To continue with a coastside tradition, Fifth Crow has been bitten by the bean bug. It’s official: we have a minor obsession with the faba-lous Legume.
We now grow a dozen varieties of beans and continue to collect more. We grow 6+ acres of dry beans. We thresh using a small scale thresher that was brought from Turkey, then clean mostly by hand for all 12+ varieties. The labor and care involved in our process is why our prices are higher than what you see at most grocery stores.
Why are our beans better?
Our beans are fresher than what you’ll find in a grocery store! Though beans store for years, the older they are the harder it is to re-hydrate them and the longer it takes them to cook. Though we occasionally have beans left over from a previous season, for the most part our beans are no more than about a year old. They cook faster, more consistently, and just taste way better than your typical store-bought beans. We also grow some quite rare varieties you may never have tried.
Where to purchase our beans:
Our beans are always available at our farmers’ markets across the bay, and our market staff would love to recommend varieties and recipes to the bean-curious. Additionally, you can order our beans via our farmstand on HARVIE, through our CSA, and sometimes through our wholesale partners. Additionally, starting this year (2023), CSA members can add a Bean Club Share to their CSA box!
Some useful links:
Huffington Post’s “Don’t be Scared..” on how to cook dry beans
New York Times article about Bean Counterculture & Rancho Gordo (guru’s of heirloom dry beans)
Rancho Gordo’s Website – sooo many kinds of beans and such a beautiful website to browse- PS they wrote a bean cookbook that’s really great