Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bean Bonanza


Erin Molnar and Elizabeth Macek nurtured a dream and developed a business plan while hoeing rows of vegetables as apprentices at Crown Point Ecology Center in Bath. They agreed to start farming together under a hot summer sun and this year they actually did it, leasing just under an acre of land in Macedonia. They call the venture Ledgewood Larder and are focusing on filling a niche for eating local year-round by raising and drying beans and lentils.

  In spring, they planted 15 varieties of legumes, some common and others lesser known but particularly delicious (among them pinto, red kidney, cowpeas, cannelini, Turkey Craw and borlotti, French blue and Petite Crimson lentils. Harvested beans are dried whole on screens, agitated to break the pods. Molnar told me they do it the old-fashioned way, putting them in a pillowcase and beating it with a stick, and finally sifting and sorting by hand. Both still work full time at other jobs so they've scaled aspirations to hours available with the intention of expanding as demand increases.

   "We've gone from dreaming to doing," says Molnar, "and it's exciting. We're offering something new and different to people that want products grown close to home. These are so different in texture and taste from what you find at the grocery story. They're so good, and good for you."

  The women's first crop is ready for sale and these next weeks are a good time to stock your pantry with their product. Find them at the Countryside Farmers' Markets in Peninsula and Akron's Highland Square. "After all our hoping and planning," Molnar crows,  "this is really happening."  And I see some wonderful, local bean-based soups, chilis and cassoulet in my fall and winter future.


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