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Local Lore: Encinitas has long ‘bean’ a location for limas

Barbara Grice

As a new columnist, I thought that I would introduce you to the San Dieguito Heritage Museum.

This museum has a mission — a mission to preserve artifacts, records and stories pertaining to local history before they are lost to the passage of time. Our lives move at a very rapid pace, and we want to remember to stop and reflect on the people and events of our past.

There are a lot of wonderful and fascinating stories that people have shared with the museum and we would like to share them with you. My hope is to entertain you with these stories, and in turn, pass on the history of the San Dieguito area in which we are so fortunate to live.

I will begin by introducing myself; I am the new executive director of the San Dieguito Heritage Museum.

My great-great-grandparents homesteaded 320 acres of land here in the 1880s. Obviously, the area has changed just a bit since then!

This is what I would like to pass on to you: Our mission here at the museum is to collect, preserve and interpret local history, and to pass these stories on to those in the community as well as visitors from around the world.

Since our next big fundraising event is coming up Sept. 27, I will tell you the story behind it: This will be our sixth annual Lima Bean Faire & Cook-Off.

Lima bean growing and cattle ranching were prevalent here until the 1940s. But then, water was brought in to the area. That started the transformation of the area into a center of horticultural innovation.

Lima beans were introduced to North County around 1905 by a former resident of Ventura, who planted the first commercial bean crop in Olivenhain.

Within five years, the beans had revolutionized the local farming industry. By the 1920s, farmers’ average output was about 25,000 pounds of beans per day!

Needless to say, great lima bean recipes were born and became a staple for the annual barbecues. (The deep pit barbecue is for another day.)

The Lima Bean Cook-Off is a competition for professional chefs and amateur cooks alike. Some of the recipes would startle your imagination!

The lucky winner for each division will receive the coveted “Lima Bean Trophy” —something that you would be proud to place on your mantel.

Please accept my invitation to join us in the fun Sept. 27. You can find more information by going to our website, www.sdheritage.org, or call me at the museum at 760-632-9711.

I look forward to sharing stories with you about the people and places in our neighborhood.


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