The Futterman Collection
by Mike Dunton
Summary: A large collection of rare and interesting books and
manuscripts with broad topics including but not limited to gardening,
horticulture, agriculture, biodynamic principles, soil health and
composting. The goal is to begin scanning the rarest of these books
and to eventually make the collection available to researchers both
electronically and on-site.
for database of titles
Click here for the database
of the Futterman Bean Project
"spoken" to Mark only briefly in an email exchange several years prior, it
came as quite a surprise (shock really) when he contacted me. The
situation was that after 35 years living in the same home, a new owner had
purchased the property and was evicting Mark and his
wife. The notice could not have come at a more inopportune time as
the Futterman's were both dealing with serious health issues.
eviction notice was served rather unexpectedly and since they were not in
a position to quickly locate comparable affordable housing with the space required to
keep all of their possessions, Mark was looking for alternative solutions
that would maintain his body of work.
As a life member of Seed Savers Exchange, arrangements were made
for them to maintain his bean collection. He contacted us to learn more
about our work, our dreams, our goals and our objectives as they pertained
to heirloom seed preservation and specifically as they applied to our
historical horticultural library.
October 8, 1940, Mark was a
maintainer and collector of bean varieties and
had spent a lifetime assembling a reference library. As a young researcher, he
had access to many rare titles held within the University of California at
Berkeley archives that were unavailable to the public and he was able to
make copies of them. To this collection he added many books.
open and thorough dialog using email and telephone conversations, Mark felt as
if we would be the best stewards for his library. Our promise
was to maintain the integrity as well as the entirety of the
collection and work towards making the information it contained available to researchers and
other interested parties.
Arrangements were made on June 26, 2004 to travel the
1300 miles to Berkeley, California and back to the farm. Thankfully my father had a vehicle sound enough and large enough to
carry all 31 boxes!
face to face, Mark and I hugged and both agreed that we were kindred
spirits. It was one of those rare moments in life where you meet
someone, feel completely at ease and as if you have known them your whole
Less that a year later, we received the sad report from his wife that Mark passed away
on May 4,
2005 at the age of 64 years. Mark
was a man with a kind heart, a gentle spirit and someone who has lived a
life of service to his family, his community, and to the world.
Along with his interest and active work in seed variety preservation, he
has played a key support role providing his technical and operational
abilities for an organization that his wife founded called, "The
Achromatopsia Network." The network provides support for
individuals and families affected by this rare inherited vision disorder.
The Futterman's shine as examples of being good stewards and for possessing a spirit
of service - traits which we should all work to nurture and perfect within
ourselves and our children.
personal relationship with Mark was so very brief, I know that there was
so much valuable knowledge and life experience that I could have gleaned
from his mentorship. He is missed.
and How You Can Help
As described in the
"Library" section of the
projects page, we are working towards making the titles in the library
available to others. This will be a long and continuing process as our resources
are committed to our primary mission of seed preservation. As time
and money permits, we will be actively renovating our old barn into the library space. If you feel that this is a project that you would like to support, please
do consider a financial contribution and note that you want it used for
library related expenses. It will then be earmarked appropriately
and accounted for on our finance statement page (available by clicking here).
Note: Mark's wife
Frances passed away a year later on May 19, 2006.