A hundred or more years ago a flock of geese was flying south and decided to lay over in Stonycreek in Somerset County.
One of them paddled too close to the waterwheel at Joseph Mostoller's sawmill and became Sunday dinner, courtesy of one of the Mostoller's boys.
When Mrs. Mostoller prepared the goose for dinner she found a handful of beans in its craw. She put the beans on her kitchen windowsill to dry and she planted them the next spring. Now members of the Mostoller family and countless others have planted seed from those particular beans. They're pole beans that will grow about 10 feet or so. The beans are white with splotches of a reddish brown color on them. They're good to eat as green beans and ham and just as good dried to use in soup or baked beans.
According to the Somerset Historical Society, the beans were identified as a Seneca Indian bean. Experts speculate that the goose ate the beans on the Cornplanter Grant (now the Kinzua Dam) in Warren County, before meeting its demise in Somerset County.
Today, the number of Pennsylvania seed savers is growing. Not only is gardening a national pastime, but more and more people are viewing saving seed as a necessity. They worry about the control of big seed companies and their patented seeds. Some farmers enthusiastically use genetically engineered seeds because their yield is higher and their crop is more nutritious, the taste is better and the work is lighter. But others question the lack of research into the effect of genetic modification on humans, coupled with the fact that farmers, by contract with the seed company, cannot save seed from year to year, but must purchase new seed each spring.
With the interest in saving seeds comes the demand for organic seeds. A farmer survey conducted by the Association of Official Seed Certifying Agencies (AOSCA) which covered 45 states, showed that only 20 percent of the surveyed farmers used 100 percent organic seed for all of their crops. The other 80 percent couldn't find the organic seed they needed.
But a solution to the shortage may be offered on Oct. 1 when the AOSCA will introduce an Organic Seed Finder. The website will be at www.organicseedfinder.org. The guide lists varieties of field crops, vegetables and herbs, along with a link to seed companies that sell organic seeds.
In the meantime, if you want to try Mostoller beans, call the Somerset Historical Society, 814- 445-6077. You can buy seeds for $2 a packet or you can ask to be registered with the Historical Society. The society will send you Mostoller beans and waive the fee if you promise to return a portion of your crop to the Museum.
Teresa Futrick of Tyrone has been around farming and gardening all her life and likes everything about it - even weeding.