One hundred years ago Bud Lyons (Lyons Road) began amassing 15,000 acres of virgin marshland half way between Miami and Palm Beach, seven miles from the sea. This became the seat of operations for the Titan of the Bean Patch, as he was called. He grew three varieties of beans according to regional preferences: Bountiful for Northeast consumers, Tender Green for the South and Black Valentine for the West. He wouldn’t admit to a favorite, saying he liked them all. The seeds are still available from Heirloom Seeds.
The crop was taken to Lyons’ packing plant in Pompano Beach where it were cleaned, graded, packed and loaded into refrigerator cars. They were also available at a Farmer’s Market nearby between Flagler Avenue and the tracks. This produce kept dozens of laborers fed during the Great Depression as Lyons didn’t lay any of them off and allowed them to keep the less than perfect beans.
Five thousand acres of the bean patch became part of the City of Coral Springs in 1963 when they were sold to Coral Ridge Properties. Farming continued for years in the southeast section of town before residential construction began down there. Joan Harner recalls fields of staked green beans, tomatoes and delicious strawberries. There were also small farms along State Road 7 that had stands as well as “pick your own” areas for strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and green beans, open seven days a week. These stayed in business until about 2000 when the property was sold for commercial construction.
Carol Nelson remembers a horse-drawn wagon with produce making stops in Forest Hills during the 70s. Dairies and the only gas station in town, the then-Gulf station across from City Hall, also provided local delivery. When a resident ran out of gas, the owner would make a house call.
Many benefits of small town living have disappeared but maybe with the reappearance of a local green market, we will slow down to smell the flowers and admire the green beans.