DescriptionFounded in 1876, W. Atlee Burpee & Company grew to be the largest seed company in the world by the early twentieth century. In 1924 the company advertised a contest in its Seed Annual asking customers to write in about “What Burpee’s Seeds Have Done for Me,” with prizes for the best stories ranging from five to two hundred and fifty dollars. Roughly 4,000 contest letters, as well as many accompanying photographs, are part of the W. Atlee Burpee & Company Collection at the Archives of American Gardens. This is the story of August Heckman’s garden and her youth Food Club in Ottawa, Ohio, told in her own words through her 1924 contest submission.
Transcription of August Heckman’s letter to W. Atlee Burpee Co.:
Ottawa, Ohio. Aug. 11, 1924
Messrs. W. Atlee Burpee Co.,
I should have written you long ago telling you of my being a satisfied customer for thirty-five years. I expect to be with you until flowers from Burpee will bloom on my grave.
Every year I send for one vegetable and flower new to me. It is great study and pleasure. Among others, Witloof Chicory is easy to raise, but Oh My! the greens for Christmas.
One year I make a “fad” of one kind of flower and the next year another. Last year I fell for Zinnias. They were prettier than the pictures.
I am sorry you dropped the Ella May chrysanthemums (finest yellow) and the Volga watermelon. These were the easiest to grow in my garden. At one time I tried to develop striped corn, but Burbank with his Rainbow Corn headed me off.
I have been a Food Club Leader for five years. To demonstrate canning we use the vegetables from my garden and the seeds are from Burpee. The club received twice prizes for canning display at the State Fair and many at County Fair. We intend to capture (with the aid of Burpee’s Seeds) the First Prize at the State this year.