Lick the Plate: Celebrate local history at the Beans & Greens Cook-off & Faire

Encinitas is celebrating its 30th year as an incorporated city this year, yet the history of the area goes back to the 1880s when the first pioneers came to the region.

The 8th annual Beans & Greens Cook-off & Faire happening Oct. 8 celebrates that rich history with a fun, family friendly festival at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum.

This is one of the two main fundraising events held by the Museum each year and there will be something for everyone, including the culinary portion where I will be participating as a judge in the Battle of the Beans & Greens Cook-off.

The 8th annual Beans & Greens Cook-off & Faire happening Oct. 8 celebrates that rich history with a fun, family friendly festival at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum. Courtesy image

The 8th annual Beans & Greens Cook-off & Faire happening Oct. 8 celebrates that rich history with a fun, family friendly festival at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum. Courtesy image

For the first time there will be two categories:  recipes based on beans and recipes featuring greens, with the best recipes vying for first place in amateur and professional categories.

The public is invited to taste and vote for the People’s Choice award. Creative cooks will compete to present their best bean or green creation and the categories range from appetizers to desserts. Don’t be late, as hundreds of locals may beat you to the best tastes.  The tastings last from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. or until every bean or green is gone! Available for purchase are hot dogs, soda, beer, wine and homemade cakes, cookies and sweets.

On the history side of things, folks can tour the restored interior of the 1885 Teten House, an early farmhouse from Olivenhain, now on the museum grounds. The house is now completely renovated and furnished with much of the original Teten furniture, allowing you to step back in time to an authentic 1930’s farmhouse.

Explore the old general store when meat was 29 cents a pound, experience a “dustbowl day” worker’s shanty from the Ecke Ranch, and peek into the local barbershop won on a poker bet.

Given the rich farming history in the area, the 4H Clubs of Olivenhain and San Dieguito will be ready with farm animals, kids crafts, demonstrations and information on what today’s 4H clubs are all about.

Kids can also enjoy a free craft from their weekend Families Make History Museum program. Enjoy the bake sale, find bargains at the silent auction tables, or purchase a locally grown plant from the plant auction table.

This festival was originally called The Lima Bean Faire and for good reason. When people think of agriculture in North County, conversation usually heads towards avocados, citrus and flowers.

Not many know that before the area had access to fresh water, lima beans were the go-to crop for early settlers.  In 1862 the U.S. government passed the Homestead Act, which gave free land to Americans that would travel to the West.

If you went west, made a claim and paid a fee to the federal government, and then stayed on the land and improved it over a period of five years, you would get 160 acres free. In the 1880s, pioneers came to the area to homestead and many thought that the land would be arable for all sorts of crops.

There was even a group of German immigrants who were deceived by land promoters that claimed olive trees were growing east of Encinitas, thus Olivenhain was established. The truth of the matter was that the soil was not particularly rich and the local climate was semi-arid desert and not conducive to growing olive trees.

Consequently, the crops that many pioneers first grew failed.

For those that stayed after the disappointment of poor farmland, a crop was needed that they could dry farm (without irrigation) and was hearty enough to survive long stretches without much moisture. Enter the lima bean.

Farmers found that lima beans grew readily along the coastal strip. It was found that the bean grew easily because it used the moisture from the foggy ocean air during parts of the year. So you could say lima beans saved the day.

As irrigation became more prevalent in the area after irrigation came to the area with the building of Lake Hodges dam in 1918, the most important crop that came to Encinitas were flowers led by Paul Ecke in 1923. He came from Los Angeles and decided to buy land in Encinitas because it was so cheap. After Ecke, many flower growers came to the area. That’s your slice of local history and as we all know, things have changed quite drastically around here.

Discover how interesting our North County early history can be at the San Dieguito Heritage Ranch Museum and stop by the Beans & Greens Cook-off & Faire this Saturday.  The museum is located at 450 Quail Gardens Dr. Entry to the Faire is free and tasting tickets are $25 ($20 in advance) and $5 for children 12 and under. For advance tickets and more information, call the museum at (760) 643-0711 or visit sdheritage.org.

David Boylan is the founder of Artichoke Creative an Encinitas based integrated marketing firm. He also hosts Lick the Plate Radio that airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. on FM94/9, Easy 98.1, and KSON. Reach him at david@artichoke-creative.com or (858) 395-6905.

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