HomePlantsThe beans of the bearhunter has made it back home to Sweden

The beans of the bearhunter has made it back home to Sweden

Date: 04.09.2017 Author: Sara Landqvist Category: Plants


The Swedish immigrants didn’t only carry with them the hope of a better life when they set sail to America. They also packed down seeds from their former home country. Today, NordGen propagates the brown beans of Hartley Jepson – beans that have lived several generations in Maine.


The men in the corner shop called him “the ballad singer and bear hunter by the Madawaska lake”. Hartley Jepson was 82 years old when Swedish journalist Lena Israelsson visited him in the late 1990s to talk about brown beans.

— I was raised on brown beans. Every Saturday my whole life I have been eating brown beans. And the tastiest ones, are the old Swedish, Hartley said to Lena Israelsson according to the article later published in the paper Land.

Brought a bag of beans home

The brown beans of Hartley Jepson is both smaller och lighter than the ones grown in Sweden today.

— I have saved these last beans because I was hoping someone would like to sow them before they loose all life. I haven’t had the strength to grow anything the last few years, Hartley said, according to the article in Land.

Jepson, who by the way spoke Swedish fluently, gave Israelsson a bag of beans and she brought them to NordGen. So the beans finally returned to Sweden and has rested safe in Alnarp ever since. Now, it’s time for them to propagate, to ensure that they are preserved for bean growers to come as well.

Bear hunter and ballad singer

But was Jepson really a bear hunter and ballad singer, as the men in the corner shop said? Well, he showed the place across Madawaska lake where he had shot a bear, and he sang both “Du gamla, du fria”, “Barnatro” och “Du store Gud” to Israelsson with a strong voice. With his wife Albertina, also Swedish ascendant, he often sang at weddings, nursing homes and to anyone who liked to listen.

Hartley Jepson was born in Stockholm. The Stockholm which lies in Maine and has 253 inhabitants. He lived the larger part of his life on the farm which was founded by his grand parents when they arrived as immigrants. He died in April 2008, 90 years old. But the beans he loved still lives on in the collections of NordGen.

— I hope they grow well in old Sweden, Hartley said to Lena Israelsson when she and the beans were to go home.

That, they do, NordGen can certify.