The Heritage Farm Collection: 'Brinker Carrier' bean

The ‘Heritage Farm Collection’ debuted in the 2012 Seed Savers Exchange catalog and illustrates our latest efforts to move varieties from our seed vault to America’s dinner table.

The histories shared in the print catalog are a condensed summary of the full story. We have often collected a more complete history. We hope you enjoy this blog series, in which we publish full portraits of the varieties we are introducing (or re-introducing) in 2016.

'Brinker Carrier' bean

  • Pole beans that require trellising and mature mid-season

  • Tender, nearly stringless snap beans grow to 5” long

  • Large, white dry beans have buttery texture

We grow hundreds of plant varieties at Heritage Farm in Northeast Iowa each year, but Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) also distributes varieties to growers around the world through our Member-Grower Evaluation Network (M-GEN) in an effort to build a larger base of information on each variety. M-Gen participants grow and observe select varieties and provide us with plant characteristics, performance data, and photographs of each variety throughout the growing season.

In 2013, M-GEN participants compared 4 versatile heirloom beans for use as snap beans, shelling beans, and dry beans. The overall favorite of that group was ‘Brinker Carrier.’ It is a good snap bean, but received especially strong taste reviews as a shelling and dry bean. Jane Jensen of Utah writes, “yummy shelly bean, had the best flavor, white, creamy smooth, delicious.”

The Carrier and Brinker families have lived in upper Mason County, WV for well over a century. In 2011, Fred Brinker told SSE that he has grown this bean for about 20 years near New Haven, WV. The bean has been passed down in the Brinker family for four generations.  The Carriers call the variety "Brinker beans" because the Carriers received the seed from neighbors Elmer and Abby Brinker, Fred's grandparents.

After Abby Brinker's death, the bean was "lost" in the Brinker family until a Carrier family member gave it to a Brinker family member in the late 1950s. Fred Brinker helped his mother Alice raise the bean beginning in about 1958. When Fred donated it to SSE, he named it ‘Brinker Carrier’ to honor the stewardship in both families.

Fred likes the fact that the shelling beans don't get woody until they become very mature.  Sometimes Fred plants two crops, one early and one late, in order to harvest green beans late in the season.  His mother would can and freeze the green beans for winter, or the beans would be eaten right from the garden.

Put it on the table!

This variety is ideal for

  • Fresh eating
  • Steaming
  • Roasting
  • Canning
  • Soups
  • Freezing

This bean can be used as a snap bean for canning and freezing, as a shelling bean, or as a dry bean.

Grow it!

This crop can be direct seeded into warm soil after the last spring frost. If you sow a section or row every two or three weeks, you can get a continuous crop. Space your seeds 2-4 inches apart in well fertilized soil. Plant your seeds around 1 inch deep.

As this plant grows it may need support in the form of a trellis to keep the vines off the ground. You won't need to fertilize this crop in order to get a healthy yield.

These plants prefer warm weather and soil so they should be grown when temperatures are over 68 degrees F. You should avoid watering them from above as damp leaves may be susceptible to disease.

The CORE Project

This project represents the efforts of our Preservation program to document our Collection through the Evaluation and the Collection Origins Research Effort (CORE).

The CORE project began in 2011. It is an effort to record the Collection’s cultural history by gathering, documenting, and sharing stewardship history. Our comprehensive Evaluation program began in 2010. Evaluation staff document Collection growouts, including morphological traits, photographs, taste evaluation, and purity assessment. These programs converge to give us a rich portrait of individual varieties in our Collection.

When we identify varieties with both a compelling story and outstanding performance traits, they are ‘short listed’ for consideration in the ‘Heritage Farm Collection.’ Most ‘Heritage Farm Collection’ introductions are either family heirlooms or historic commercial varieties that faded from commerce.

Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization located in Decorah, Iowa, with a mission to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.