Ms. Sherree Nations has been searching for heirloom seeds over the last 10 years. Talking to 20 to 30 older residents about heirlooms seeds, she kept being told “I used to have some”. A year ago, she received beans that had been saved and passed down through the Goe family, descendants of Daniel Boone from the Old Landing area in Lee County.
Heirloom seeds are handed down from one family member to another for many generations. It takes 50 years of producing the same plant unchanged, in order to consider it heirloom.
The beans themselves are a type of goosey bean. These beans named after the originating folk lore story of being taken from the craw of a goose. It is still common to see Canadian grease migrate though this area. Knowing the history of Native Americans and the travels of Daniel Boone through Old Landing to Fort Boonesborough, Nations immediately began the process of contacting a seed specialist at the Baker Creek Seed Company, Martin Walsh, to have them tested and preserved. International seed specialist travel all around the world collecting and preserving rare seeds.
In an article Nations sent to the Baker Creek Seed Company’s along with 10 of these rare beans to preserve in their seed library, she gave the seeds the identifying name of “Old Landing Settlers Goosey Beans”.
Over this past growing season 2020, Nations was able to plant and watch these Old Landing Settlers beans grow. She picked a mess for tasting and has herself described them as delicious.
“To think that these beans, which were on my farm table could be the exact unchanged beans that were harvested and placed on the farm table of Daniel Boone and his family is amazing.” said Nations.
When asked how such seeds have become so rare to find, Nations explained that few families now grow crops for food like they used to do. The elder farmers in the area, when asked about heirloom seeds or goosey beans, respond that their fathers and grandfathers used to grow and save them. Because of the downturn in family farming over the years, the practice of drying and saving seed to plant for the next season has all but disappeared.
According to the book “Kentucky Heirloom,” The seed business began to change in the 20th century as multi-national companies bought out small seed companies and bred varieties best suited for mechanical harvest, long-distance transportation and long shelf life.
Nations resides in the Beartrack area of Lee County and anxiously awaits news from the Baker Creek Seed Company. She expressed great interest in finding more heirloom seeds in the Lee County and surrounding county area in order to preserve them and their family stories that go with them.
If anyone has any family heirloom beans that have been passed down through generations of your family please contact Ms. Nations at 606-208-4777. To learn more about the Baker Creek Seed Company visit www.rareseeds.com.
Article written by Dedra Brandenburg & Teresa Mays, Beattyville/Lee County Tourism, Downtown Beattyville Alliance & Locally Made Farmer’s and Artisan Market.
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