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Family heirloom bean seeds

My older sister and I have often lamented that the heirloom seeds that were used for so many years on my mother’s family farm have been lost. But my sister recently discovered that a cousin has been growing green beans from family seed for many years. That cousin sent me some of those seeds. They’ll definitely be used in my garden next year.

My mother grew up on a good-size family farm in the Yadkin Valley, a place that had been in the family at least since the days of my mother’s grandfather, which is as far back as living memories go (my mother will soon be 88). Most of the farmland has been split up and sold off, but a few acres remain in the family.

This farm — which I well remember from my childhood — was highly self-sufficient. It even had its own blacksmith shop. Most of the food was grown and preserved for the winter on the farm. Preserved foods were canned, dried, and fermented. Fermented foods included pickles and sauerkraut. The farm produced its own milk, butter, and ham. There were draft animals for farming (I can remember the mules), though of course tractors came into use later on. The farm could make its own corn meal, but wheat flour was one of the few staples that had to be bought, along with pinto beans. Flour and beans were bought in 50-pound sacks. The farm even made wine and moonshine. I believe the winemaking and distilling had shut down by the time I was a child, though there was a kitchen closet with the scent of wine that I was never permitted to open when I was a child.

My mother’s father took pride in providing for a generous and well-stocked kitchen. And my grandmother’s cooking is still the family standard that I and my siblings and cousins aim for.

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