On the trail of preans

Had a call at work yesterday from a man wanting to know about the “peans” mentioned on the garden page in the Bay of Plenty Times last month – he’d been asking around for them and no one had heard of them.

Fortunately, we have a reliable online library of stories and photos used in all the APN papers around New Zealand so I found the story and read it while he was on the phone. The reference to the cross between a pea and a bean came in the very last paragraph, but the answer lay in the acronym tagline that followed, AAP.

The story had originated with Australian Associated Press and a quick Google of the author’s name reveals that Maureen Gilmer is, in fact, an American. No wonder my caller had been meeting with blank stares and shakes of the head around Tauranga.

There’s information about Irish preans here and this article is about a legume identified as pea bean, claiming the variety has been grown in Britain for 400 years. The seeds pictured in the article, the ones that look like ceramic pebbles, aren’t actually of the pea bean!

[Read a second post about the pea-bean here.]

Meanwhile, the Central Tree Crops Research Trust in Wanganui is running the Heirloom Beans project, calling for donations of seed to build up a national collection, one that will be shared with gardeners when stock allows.

The trust’s director, Mark Christensen, was the man who discovered the Monty’s Surprise apple, proven to be packed with health-giving properties, growing on the roadside. The trust has since given away thousands of the apple trees.

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