ENCINITAS — According to the San Dieguito Heritage Museum, the lowly lima bean is making a comeback. At the first Lima Bean Festival, organizers said they hope to make the event an annual gathering that will rival nearby celebrations of garlic, avocados and strawberries.
Dubbed the “2009 Lima Bean Weekend Faire,” the three-day fundraiser celebrated North County’s lima bean heritage. It is a little-known fact that long before flowers covered fields in the area, lima beans were grown along the coast from Del Mar to Encinitas. While lima beans are no longer grown commercially in the vicinity, in the 1920s, more than 1,000 acres of lima bean plants covered the San Dieguito region.
In fact, the much-despised legume was a staple from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s. Because the lima bean requires no irrigation it was harvested dry and easily shipped from North County to locations throughout the country. Its protein-rich value was a boon during lean times when meat was not as readily available.
“Lima beans, you may be thinking, ‘oh yuck,’” the event’s co-chair Tom Cozens told the crowd during the opening ceremony. But he promised to make a lima bean lover out of all those present with the unique delicacies such as lima bean brownies and fudge. “This is our first, hopefully annual, lima bean festival,” he said.
The Lima Bean Talent Show and Tequila Tasting featured El Duende Tequila and lima bean-oriented entertainment by various artists from poets to clog dancers and a wandering dog who made his way on stage more than once.
Saturday’s Lima Bean Cook Off event featured local residents and community organizations cooking their favorite lima bean recipes. The event also included a craft faire, kid’s activities, lima bean poker and bingo, and lots of lima beans. “Who knew what you could do with a lima bean?” asked Ted Simmons as he ate into a plate of the oversized, white legume. “They’re good tasting and good for you and the land. It’s a win-win food.”
The museum is located at 450 Quail Gardens Drive. For more information on additional historical programs, visit www.sdheritage.org.