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.

Click here for database of titles
Click here for the database of the Futterman Bean Project

Mark Futterman & Mike Dunton - 6/26/04 - Berkeley, CaliforniaHaving "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.

Since the 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.

Born on 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.

The Collection in Boxes Safe on the FarmAfter an 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!

Upon meeting 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 life.

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.

Although my 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.

Project Vision 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.

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