Beans are an ancient and highly valued food source. Originally cultivated in Central America from Mexico to Peru, Bolivia and down to Argentina. The smaller beans are thought to have been cultivated in Mexico as long as 7,000 years ago, while the larger beans were cultivated in Peru beginning about 8,000 years ago.
Most heirloom beans pair well with corn and squash, as they fix greatly needed nitrogen in the soil, and aid in the growth of a specific fungus that helps protect the corn from disease. The beans climb up the corn when planted closely, getting sun and in turn helping to anchor the corn against winds.