Bob Reid was born in Scotland and moved to Australia in his 20’s. He studied at James Cook University before becoming a Research Scientist at CSIRO, Division of Tropical Crops and Pastures.
As part of that position he spent 2 years as Germplasm Acquisition Officer in IBPGR Italy, hopped back to Tasmanian for five years as Principle Pasture Scientist, then 5 years in the Falkland Islands as Director of Agriculture and back to Tasmanian as Company Director of Tasglobal Seeds.
Over this period of time he visited around 50 countries, and in a time when you could still bring back seed into Australia – he did. Lots of it.
I had the great privilege of spending a day with Bob documenting his bean and pea seed collection. I drove up the drive knowing that he was retired, but the immediate impression with the row of polytunnels, glasshouses and rows and rows of polystyrene boxes of bulbing flowers – he has one of the largest collections of Fritillaria – and breeds them, was not of a retiree.
He has around 20 varieties of Teff, the plant from which we bred our modern day wheat, plus pasture grasses, rare chillies, tomatoes, corn and much more. And he grows them out. Keeping an amazing collection going. He works on it constantly. He told me it wasn’t work, this was play.
He gave me an empty polystyrene box and pointed me in the direction of two filing cabinets in a shed. They were full of packets of beans. Every one of them was opened and a few beans tipped into my palm. Each time it was that sweet anticipation of seeing something new, rare, with a lineage and a story who knew how many thousands of years old. From countries I will never visit, but were nestled in my palm, a dainty, edible jewel.
Bob Reid's Private Bean Collection
These are for your viewing pleasure and are not for sale.
Notes on the origin of the beans, and further information will be available at some stage, when Bob’s found the notes buried in a container and we’ve had time to get them online. PLUS, Bob tells me he’s found more bean varieties…