Verna’s Bush

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In the 1940s, Verna Gillingham gave a sample of her old family bean to a young man with a young family named Wilfred Hilleshiem. In the mid-1970s Wilfred chose to pass on a seed sample to his daughter, Dawn Gajdosik. After growing out the bean for a few seasons, Dawn felt that other gardeners should know about it as well and she did her best to share it far and wide. She went so far as to send samples to commercial seed companies and the USDA. Her sample and letter made its way around the USDA and ended up at Cornell University where it was suggested to Dawn that she should send samples to an heirloom bean collector named, John Withee. In 1981 she sent a sample of seeds along with a letter that told her story to Lynnfield, Massachusetts where it was cataloged and added to John Withee’s collection. Dawn said that she saved the seeds all these years because it is her favorite bean to eat, it always grew well for her, and she had never seen another bean like it. Dawn stated in 2016, “We have tried to maintain the seed and [I] can proudly say, at age 73, I’m going to continue to grow them as long as I can.”