Recap of Bean Fest 1: The More You Eat…

Bean Fest 1: The More You Eat… is a workshop demonstrating results of our 2015 Specialty Crop Block Grant funded by the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture.

On August 25th, 2016 we hosted our first community day to share some results from our dry bean trial project and to get some feedback from some O‘ahu eaters. We had the gracious support from O‘ahu Fresh who let us bring a bunch of bean eaters into their Honolulu food hub opening party and from the Chefs Jenn and Christina Hee of Juicy Brew Cafe who made some amazing bean-based dishes.

Background on the project

Counter Culture—in partnership with Leeward Community College, GoFarm Hawai‘i, and Thanh’s Farm—applied and was awarded a USDA and Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture  Specialty Crop Block Grant for 2015. The grant’s purpose is “to solely enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops” and our specialty crop was dry beans (a.k.a. pulses).

Beans are a great source of plant-based protein and are very useful in sustainable/organic cropping systems as they can pull atmospheric nitrogen back into the soil. But, there aren’t a lot of dry beans grown in Hawai‘i likely due to the lack of infrastructure or machinery to dry, thresh (beat the bean out of the pod), and clean. De-shelling and cleaning beans by hand is very arduous process and not economically viable. We wanted to explore the possibility of producing more dry beans in Hawai‘i and build/acquire some low-tech and shareable equipment to help with post-harvest.

Beaning sexy back

Earlier in 2016, Counter Culture, Leeward Community College, GoFarm Hawai‘i, and Thanh’s Farm planted 32 different varieties of beans on each of our farms. The goal was to determine any clear winners and losers—any plants that grew exceptionally well, or withered in the tropical heat.

We then gave 15 of the most promising varieties to the Hee Chefs who cooked each one for a bean tasting. All Bean Fest guests were encouraged to sample each variety and then score it on texture, flavor, etc. Using this data, we selected the 10 best varieties for our randomized, replicated trial later in the year.

The beans are alive

We were pretty surprised at how interested the attendees were in sampling each variety of beans and scoring them. Raw, dried beans are really beautiful to look at, but don’t seem to get the culinary credit they deserve so it felt promising that eaters and chefs are excited about locally-grown pulses. Stay tuned for future Bean Fests where we will tour the field trial sites at GoFarm Hawai‘i in Waimanalo, view harvest procedures at Leeward Community College, and have a final bean tasting fiesta at Counter Culture Farm!Field of beans

If you’re interested in nerding out a bit more, here are some trial notes from our Spring 2016 trial. We performed an observational trial and each of the four farms inoculated seeds with Guard-N Combination Inoculant and planted varying row feet of the following beans at six inches apart and 30-inch row spacing. The bolded varieties are the 10 best that we selected for the second randomized trial.

  • Badillo
  • Beka Brown
  • Beniquez
  • Borlotti Kenya
  • Fordhook Bush Lima
  • Grey Speckled Palapye Cowpea
  • Henderson Bush Lima
  • Jackson Wonder Lima
  • Kebarika
  • Mayo Coba
  • Morales
  • Mshindi
  • Nora Baudette
  • Pesa
  • PI406164
  • Red Speckled
  • Riverside Sugar
  • Round Speckled
  • SB DT1
  • Six Nations
  • Sugar Bean
  • Sulphur
  • Sweet Bean
  • TARS-HT1
  • TARS-LFR1
  • TARS-MST1
  • TARS-Tep 22
  • TARS-Tep 32
  • Thorogreen Lima
  • Tiger Eye 
  • Verano
  • White Sugar
  • Zawadi

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