There’s a lot of commotion going on outside our usually quiet farm yard (half a mile from the road). I hear youthful voices amid the roar of a quad. This isn’t a bunch of adolescent kids out for a spin. They’re here on serious business – roguing.
Cyre Seed Farms Ltd. has 80 acres of fava beans planted just across from our home in two varieties, Snowbird and Imposa. Snowbird’s been around for a few years but Imposa is a new one. It shows promise, with a larger seed and looks like higher yields.
To make sure farmers get as pure a seed as possible the field is rogued – meaning people walk through it and pull out every plant that looks different than the seeded variety should. Mostly they’re looking for plants whose flowers have a purplish tinge instead of being pure white, with a black spot on the flowers. It’s a great summer job for rural teens. Not everyone enjoys it though – 80 acres becomes a very big field!
Fava beans used to be a rare sight around here, but not so much anymore. “They fix the most nitrogen of anything,” says Clifford Cyre. With the higher price of nitrogen fertilizer, interest in seed for the beans has picked up. Those grain farmers also in the hog business are growing fava beans to supplant soybeans in their hog rations. Fava beans used to be high in tannin, making the beans difficult for hogs to digest. With the introduction of zero tannin varieties fava beans are a popular option.Too bad so many hog farmers around here have gone out of business. Along with the hogs went a lucrative local market for fava beans.
Clifford told me they are looking at the aqua market for their beans now. For a moment I thought I was back in Zambia, where so many are talking about fish farming. He was referring to the fish farms in B.C.
While doing a bit of internet surfing on fava beans, I found they are a very healthy option for us humans. Some sites talk about the positive influence on people with Parkinson’s disease (and the danger of eating larger amounts of fava beans while on the Parkinson drug levodopa) (www.scienzavegetariana.it/nutrizione/favabeans.html) . In “Outsmart Your Cancer,” by Tanya Harter Pierce, Robert read that fava beans contain a high amount of Vitamin B17, often used in alternative cancer treatments.
Parkinson’s runs in my family. I think I’d better grow a big row of fava beans in my garden next year! For this year I’ll ask Clifford if I can pick some from his field.