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Digital Subscriptions > Hobby Farms > Best Of Hobby Farms 2019 > Spill the BEANS

Spill the BEANS

Long the butt of every garden joke, beans are demonstrating their value with a resurgence of popularity in nutritious, eco-friendly meals.
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Pick through beans carefully before soaking.
RACHAEL BRUGGER

Beans never seem to cultivate the gardening paparazzi spotlight status bequeathed to crops such as heirloom tomatoes or the sexy summer strawberry. It’s time to shed the dear bean’s flatulence-quip-inducing reputation and champion all its perks — from its culinary prowess to its abundance of radiant heirloom varietals. Beans truly serve as the miracle addition to your garden and plate.

“Beans are the only cultivated plants that actually enrich, rather than deplete the soil during the growing process,” says Crescent Dragonwagon, author of multiple award-winning cookbooks, including Bean by Bean: A Cookbook, and an enthusiastic bean grower on her 1795 Vermont farmstead. “A truly generous plant, beans add nitrogen to the soil rather than use it up like other plants do.”

Thanks to bean evangelists such as Dragonwagon, beans today are achieving hip culinary status and can be found on trendy restaurant menus. This current revitalization roots in beans’ strong tradition in world history and various cultures. According to Dragonwagon, beans were so esteemed in ancient Rome that the four leading families took their names from them: Lentullus (lentil), Piso (pea), Cicero (chick pea) and Fabius (fava). Defined as a legume because of its seedpods, the bean is a nutrient powerhouse, with a protein content between 6 and 11 percent.

Consider adding shell beans, grown for the dry bean, to your garden, pantry and recipe mix, and you might quickly become an advocate, as well.

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