Our life here at Small House has given my family opportunities to learn and experience things that I never would have imagined possible. From the most simple, like tapping our maple trees to collect their tasty sap and watching five year old Elijah harvest and eat his own broccoli out in the sun.. to the more amazing, like when we grew beans for Baker Creek or our visit from the “phantom gardener” the other day!

Some of you may remember that last year we were chosen to be a seed grow out location for the Gardens Across America project through Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company. We were given the very serious responsibility of taking a handful of incredibly rare beans from around the world and turning them into a much larger pile of incredibly rare beans! Even though beans are relatively easy to grow, we took our job very seriously and did our best to ensure that our mission would be a success.

Things went quite well and we were able to send a good number of beans back to Baker Creek! We were very happy with our work and proud to do our part to keep these rare beans in existence. And that was that… or so we thought.

Back in January, Baker Creek posted on their facebook page that they were looking for recruits for the 2015 Gardens project..I, of course, emailed them right away. I would certainly like to be a part of such an important project again! A little while later I got an email back from Joseph Simcox, The Botanical Explorer and the head of the project.. they would love to have Small House participate again. I was thrilled! If you are not familiar with Joe and his amazing work, here’s a link to the Botanical Explorer facebook page.. that should be a good place to get started.

So, we were pretty much all signed up and waiting for our seeds to arrive. And the sun to come out. Here in Michigan that can seem like a pretty long wait sometimes.. and then one day last week I got the phone call… from Mr. Joseph Simcox himself! He was just calling to confirm our participation and to let us know that he thought we did a great job with the grow out last.. we chit chatted for a bit about different varieties and he asked a few questions about what day to day life was like here at the homestead.. I didn’t think much of it, I was on the phone with Joe Simcox! We could have been talking about anything and I would have been just as excited. As an amateur seed saver I look up to folks that work full time to ensure plant diversity.. and in my book Joe is #1. He’s like the rock star of seed saving.. and he called me at my house! Nothing could have prepared me for what was going to happen next…

Friday February 27th is my youngest son’s birthday. He turned one this year and we were busy getting things ready for his party. We went and ran a few errands in town and stopped at the neighbor’s house for eggs for his cake before heading home. I pulled in to the driveway and a black truck pulled in right behind me. It was too soon for the party, so who could it be?

Out of the drivers side door jumps Joseph Simcox himself calling out “Hey, I think I know you!”
And out of the other side, a gentleman carrying a video camera.. to say I was blown away would be putting it mildly. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve even fully recovered yet..

He was taller than I expected. And full of energy. And information. You could tell that he truly loves every minute of what he does. They came in to the house and visited for what might have been a couple hours. Most of everything we talked about was caught on film.. I’m sure there’s plenty of footage of me, slack jawed and staring in disbelief at what was happening in my house.


I won’t try to summarize the experience here, but suffice it to say it was truly amazing! He had a container full of rare beans from the around the world that he brought in to show me. I was given a few to grow out and even allowed to choose a couple varieties I wanted to try! Then, he brought in his collection of corn. Not the plain yellow sweet corn you see here in Michigan, but the most rare corn in the Americas! All different sizes, shapes and colors.. truly stunning in their diversity! Just when I thought things couldn’t get more surreal.. he showed me a bean he had brought from the village of
Kavilii in the country of Georgia. A beautiful and large specimen that didn’t have an official name.. until now! In honor of my youngest son Anakin’s first birthday, Joseph Simcox has named this rare bean variety the Anakin Kavillii Giant! Its one of the seven rarities that we’ll be growing out for Gardens Across America this year.. Maybe by the time the beans have been harvested I will have finally recovered from the shock of all of this awesomeness! But probably not..Please enjoy this slideshow of amazing bean varieties & totally rad video of Joe’s Visit!..