Friday, March 4, 2011

Truth in Gardening Disclosure

I read an interesting post on Chickens in the Road today, seeking readers' response to the cover of Comstock, Ferre and Co.'s 2011 seed catalog (pdf download). 

The comments section was really interesting; but most people found the cover photo to be appealing. 

Personally, I love it!  This fella could be the spitting image of my late father-in-law when he used to grow his beard out.  I think the man is a real person and very believable.  He looks like someone you would want to spend a little time talking with, seeking for tidbits of his well-seasoned garden wisdom.  It gives me a warm, nostalgic feeling and as I'm sure the company had intended - it bolsters my confidence in the quality of their seeds.

I was a bit put off by some of the snide and mean comments that people made, although there weren't too many of them.  I don't believe that the author of Chickens in the Road meant anything negative by pointing out the cover, but was simply illustrating how very different this seed catalog cover is from others. 

As she said, usually seed catalogs will paint an idealistic picture of gardening:  tidy, weedless gardens bursting with colorful bounty...cute little children in pristine sundresses showing off spotless, giant tomatoes...

But we all know that that is not the truth of the matter.  It's a sweaty, dirty, sun burnt, weedy, buggy, back-breaking, time-consuming labor of love.  One that if you throw your heart into it will hopefully pay off in a well stocked canning shelf with neat rows of colorful jars containing healthy, homegrown goodness.

I think that is what this man portrays.  I think he is a real person, not a staged actor.  He may have very well grown those particular veggies himself.  (In case you're wondering, those huge yellow things are Banana Melons.)  He may even be a friend or relative of the company.  I think I saw a brief glimpse of him in this video on the company's website.  I bet he put on his best shirt when they asked to take a photo of him for the catalog.  I bet he was tickled pink.  I think he looks like a really pleasant and engaging man and I agree with the other commenters who said they'd love to "stop and sit a spell" on his front porch.

As far as the tidy little cherubs showing off produce on the typical garden catalog covers - the only time you're going to get a photo op like that is when the grand kids come to visit...maybe...if you're quick.

Here is what my daughter looks like after a day of "helping" in the garden...

Now that's believable!

Comstock, Ferre and Co. was bought up by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in June 2010.  They are taking this historical Connecticut seed company back to it's heirloom roots.  I already get the Baker Creek catalog.  You can download a pdf version of their beautiful seed catalog from their website.  It really is something, so if you haven't seen it (or ordered from them before) be sure to check it out.  You will be amazed by the diversity of color, form and flavor present in heirloom vegetables.


  1. I loved this post on Chickens In The Road, and appreciate that you followed with a great posting of your own. I love Suzanne and all her followers. When I first read the post I chuckled so hard, like Suzanne said you usually see children or something beautiful and wholesome on the cover. That guy was a shock, but it did just what the publisher wanted, got everyones attention. And it does have truth to it like you say, a day out in the garden I usually sweat, stink and probably haven't combed my hair all day!! It was great! blessings, Marla

  2. Thanks, Marla. I've been tickled all day just thinking about that wonderful photo. :)

  3. Yes I throw mu heart into it, and it
    pays off; just not always the way I thought it would. That's Ok though because the journey is always fresh when gardening.