Our 2023 EFN seed catalogue is now online! 100+ new varieties. Over 40 different growers and foragers from across the country. A million thanks to all who make this possible, especially our amazing seed-house crew!
EFN INTRODUCTION. We're thrilled to again be able to offer this wonderful "new heirloom" bean. Our great friend Lisa Bloodnick (whom we first met after she signed up as an EFN volunteer grower our first year) bred this amazing bean.
Lisa and her husband Brendan are market farmers in Apalachin, New York, outside Binghamton. At Bloodnick Family Farm they use all organic methods and even use a draft horse instead of a tractor (most of the time). Lisa is a leader in the seed-saving world making a name for herself as a steward of beans in particular. Lisa simply loves beans. Every year she grows over 100 different bean varieties (often many more than that), and some of them are exceedingly rare. Every now and then a new bean will show up in her field — a rogue — the result of a chance cross-pollination or a random mutation. If the rogue is interesting, Lisa will plant it the next year to see if its offspring are also interesting, and if the plants are robust and productive. Usually such efforts lead to nothing special, but every so often a rogue will lead to something new and unique — and such is most definitely the story of the 'Sacre Bleu'!
The original beans Lisa started with looked much like the beans we're offering for sale today — the farthest back she can trace them is to a friend's trade with a German gardener who had them labeled "dwarf blue" — but years of work were required to "stabilize" the line as a uniform new variety, continually "rogue-ing out" beans that didn't look just like the originals or perform the same way (in this case, as an unbridled climber). The result is a pole bean remarkable not only for its beauty and uniformity, but for its productivity and vigor. It's not good as a green bean, but makes a gorgeous dry bean — a dark blue kidney-type.
The first summer Lisa found no "off types" to rogue out was 2018. It was also a really rough year for farming in the Southern Tier of New York due to the weather -- a really wet year. The nearby Apalachin Creek overtopped its banks, flooding the Bloodnick farm, and even after the water subsided, it continued raining. If you've ever grown dry beans before, you know how important it is for the beans to have a chance to dry on the vine. In wet seasons they're highly susceptible to fungus. Lisa reports that of all the beans she grew in 2018 (over 150 varieties) her 'Sacre Bleu' were the "cleanest" at the end of the season. All that moisture stayed outside the pods and the beans to dry down perfectly.
This year's small crop — get 'em while they last! — was produced in Philadelphia by our friend Olivia Gamber.
NOTE: These beans are most blue when fresh, and the color darkens as they dry down and then age, so don't be alarmed when the beans that arrive in the mail are darker than they appear in the photo!