Saving the Fremont Bean Posted on 20 Jan 09:26 , 7 comments
My Grandma was visiting us from Utah and she gave me a bag of HUGE purple speckled, deep purple (almost black) and white beans. Of course, just by looking at them I knew they were something special. She explained that she had aquired these beans in Utah and they are called Fremont Beans. She stated that very little is known about them other than that they had been found in a cave in what was once Fremont Indian territory. Hence the name, Fremont Beans.
I'm still giddy with excitement over the possibility of bringing these beans "back to life." I have scoured the internet in search of more info about Fremont Beans and I've found nothing. I've looked at images and none of them match these unique beans.
Just to give you an idea of their size and color, here's a quick comparison
The Fremont Bean is rounder than the Scarlet Runner bean. I love the mottled look of the Jacob's Cattle and Red Anasazi Bean but they are definitely much smaller than the Fremont bean.
This year I'll be growing them in the hopes of being able to share them with the world. We need more people actively involved in seed diversity and saving dying breeds.
About Fremont Indians
From The Fremont,
Most archaeologists believe the Fremont developed out of existing groups of hunter-gatherers on the Colorado Plateau and in the eastern Great Basin. These small groups were, like their Fremont descendants, diverse, flexible, and adaptable. They ranged from fairly large and relatively sedentary populations in environments where resources were more readily accessible, to small, highly mobile family-sized groups where resources were widely dispersed. Over a span of about a thousand years, from sometime after 2,500 years ago to about 1,500 years ago, different groups of these hunter-gatherers gradually adopted, in a piecemeal fashion, many of the traits associated with the farming societies of the Southwest and Mexico.
First, corn and other cultivated plants (called domesticates), initially developed in what is now Mexico, then diffused northward throughout the greater Southwest and were added to the wild food subsistence base of native people sometime about 2,500 to 2,000 years ago in areas on either side of the southern Wasatch Plateau. This early use of corn and other domesticates occurred well before settled villages developed, and it seems that farming at first was just a part-time affair practiced by people who were still essentially nomadic hunters and gatherers. The earliest "Fremont" corn, radiocarbon dated to 2,340-l,940 years ago, comes from a cache near Elsinore, Utah; corn in sites along Muddy Creek in the San Rafael Swell date to just after the time of Christ. These sites suggest that farming was well established in some areas by 2,000 years ago. Outside this region, however, full-time hunting and gathering lifestyles seem to have continued unchanged. For example, in the deserts of the eastern Great Basin, at all of the many cave sites like Fish Springs, Lakeside, Black Rock, and Danger Cave, domesticates are absent throughout this early period and subsistence was based entirely on wild foods.
I'm told that the Fremont Bean is most likely more than 500 years old. I might be able to find out a bit more as I learn more about Fremont Indians. For now, I am working on another article about Ancient Seeds. If you'd like to learn more, be sure to sign up for our free mailing list. We'll definitely post throughout our journey of saving the Fremont Bean!
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