Beans hold a special place in the heart of Appalachia. 

As part of Virginia Tech Humanities Week, Virginia Tech faculty and local community leaders explored the traditions and culture surrounding the food on Feb. 7 in McBryde Hall, Room 209, 225 Stanger Street.

The program was titled “Fall Beans, Shucky Beans, Soup Beans: Perspectives in Song and Story” and focused on the cultural meanings of dried beans in Appalachia.

The event was organized by the Virginia Tech Food Studies Program and featured community leaders Victoria Ferguson of the American Indian and Indigenous Community Center and Ashleigh Shanti, a chef and food activist.

Danille Christensen, an assistant professor in the Department of Religion and Culture facilitated the conversation and sample related expressive culture, including music and tales that highlight this foundational food.

"Canned green beans are a staple of southwest Virginia foodways, but less well known is a persistent attachment to beans meant to dry on the vine, often called Fall beans or October beans," said Christensen, who is also part of the Appalachian Studies Program at Virginia Tech. "This presentation will explore the ways ecological knowledge and community values are embedded in the ways dried beans are grown, used, and narrated in the southern mountains, both historically and in the present."

Ferguson and Shanti spoke about personal, family, and community meanings of dried beans in Central Appalachia.

Held Feb. 7 through 11, Humanities Week included a range of events celebrating 150 years of the humanities at Virginia Tech and the university’s Sesquicentennial Celebration.

To view the full schedule and learn more about Humanities Week, visit the Humanities Week webpage.

Virginia Tech Humanities Week Events