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Burrell Seed History

1902 Price List and Descriptive Catalog

Burrell Seed has been here in Rocky Ford since 1900… the longest continuously operating seed company in Colorado. Opening in our location here in 1901, we are proud to still be supplying seed to local and national gardeners over 120 years later. Thanks to the Bioheritage Library, we have digital copies of our earliest catalogs – the link is included at the bottom. While the last of the Burrell family retired a few years ago, we are still here. Our catalog still goes out every spring, and we are here year around. We are happy to take your phone orders, mail orders, and orders from here on the website year around, and we will get them out as quickly as possible with the best seed we can supply.

Opened in 1901, and publishing the first catalog in 1902, Burrell Seed Growers began a story which is unrivaled west of the Mississippi river… 120+ years in the same store, at the same address. For 121 years, our catalog has began the same way, a small message from us, to our new friends and old.

Be it that first catalog, creatively titled “Price List and Descriptive Catalog, 1902” where the founder wrote:

TO ALL WHO RECEIVE THIS SEED ANNUAL, GREETING: In presenting this book (my only salesman) to you, I feel it proper to give you a few reasons why I ask your patronage. I have for a number of years been engaged in market gardening and have carefully studied the different kinds of products from the standpoint of one who wishes to grow and put up a quality of produce that when once sold to a customer will so well please as to bring further orders, also such as, when placed in open competition with other like produce, will look well and sell quick at top prices. In this I have met with success and knowing the quality of the seeds I offer I invite all who grow a garden to try them. Whether your garden is for pleasure or profit you want the best seed. I do not offer any overdrawn descriptions, but just as I have found them to be. I call your special attention to the photographs in this book. They were all taken from my seed gardens and explain the quality and yield just as it was. The cost of the seed compared with the labor employed in growing the crop is very small and if the best seed is planted even at a little more expense than cheap seed the cost of the seed will be forgotten long before the crop is that is grown. The demand for cheap seed will always be met, but if you are looking for such do not take time to look for it here as I offer the best and ask a fair profit for growing it. Choice seed must be grown from select plants and such are always worth money on the Produce market. Cheap seed saved from cull stock is very dear even as a gift as the planter will have to give all his labor to pay for it. The crop will be most sure to be BARGAIN COUNTER produce FOR SALE AT LESS THAN COST. D. V. Burrell, Seed Grower. (Page 2, DV Burrell Seed Catalog, 1902)

Or our catalog of just over 100 years ago, as life resumed after the Great War, with many of the same concerns we see today.

Rocky Ford, Colo., Dec. 1, 1921: Greeting to my Friends and Customers: Another crop season has passed and in nearly all parts of the country yields have been good. Those who grew good gardens have well filled cellars and this winter their tables will remind them that it pays to grow a good garden. You know we really get retail prices for all we* eat which we produce. If we do not grow it we must buy at retail prices. Last summer I ate dinner at a farmer’s home and was much impressed when he said, “What we have to eat we produced ourselves.” We had fried chicken, and chicken gravy, new Peas and Potatoes cooked together, Radishes, Lettuce, Onions Cottage Cheese, Cream, Milk, Butter, Hot Biscuits and Cherry Pie. Good, I’ll say it was, and all produced on the farm. When I think of the five million men now out of employment and the question, “What is to be done” is asked, I wish every one of them could grow a good garden. It would go a long ways. Let’s grow all we can and can a lot. My seed crops have been good. I have made prices as low as quality will permit. Good pedigreed seeds cannot be produced at as low prices as seeds of unknown quality and it always pays to plant the best. The best are none too good.
– My customers now are found in all parts of the United States and nearly all foreign lands. Orders from old customers are most appreciated. They prove our foundation is good. New customers will be given careful attention to merit your return orders. I want my son and my son’s sons to continue when I am through with this work and assure you my best care. Thank you. D. V. BURRELL, Seed Grower.  (Page 2, DV Burrell Seed Catalog, 1922)

Looking at the worries of people all over the country, I have to look back and say, as D. V. said a century ago, grow a garden. I cannot think of something better for my family than harvesting from our own garden. Our packets are still as large as years ago, using scoops which have been here in the company since before the oldest of us can remember. Our prices are still intended to let everyone who needs seed get what they need.

We are proud to still be here, as one of the oldest seed companies in the country, and as far as we know, the oldest still open seed company west of the Mississippi river. Growing from 16 acres of market gardens in 1902 to growing thousands of pounds through the years, and even now we still produce many of our heirloom melons, tomatoes and peppers just as we did in 1932 when D. V. Burrell wrote his last letter in the front of our seed catalog.

Rocky Ford, Colo., Dec. 1, 1931.
Dear Friends and Customers,
Greeting: How rapidly the seasons come and go! Seed-time and Harvest. We have been supplying many of you with seeds from 20 to 30 and more years until we look upon you as Lifetime Friends. We are striving by every means within our power to supply the best possible seeds and have carefully kept Pedigrees of all the seeds we grow. The demand from the most successful planters for Seeds of Known Origin either direct from the grower or in the growers’ original sealed packages is growing rapidly. There is a sound reason for this. You plant a selection which gives you excellent results. You want the same again. That means it must come from the same grower; must be grown from his selection of stock seeds on the same kind of soil, in the same locality where you may reasonably expect continued good results. We believe this demand will grow until planters will require from their seedsmen seeds in the growers’ original sealed packages and we would like to have letters from you stating whether you would prefer this or not. We, as growers of a large portion of the seeds which we offer, wish to work with you in this matter. Our supply of the varieties listed in this catalog is good and the prices based upon the cost of production and selection are right. We carefully test all seeds we send out and none but those of strong vitality and a high percentage of germination are allowed to be used in filling your orders. We thank you for your orders and especially do we wish to thank the thousands of new customers; we hope you too were pleased and to receive not only orders from those who have planted our seeds but thousands of new customers for 1932. “As Good as Grow for You to Sow.” Yours very truly, D. V. BURRELL SEED GROWERS CO (Page 2, DV Burrell Seed Catalog, 1932)

Thank you, and I look forward to seeing your order, and be part of our history through the years.

D.V. Burrell (1902-1929)

D.V. Burrell (1930-2012)  (Catalogs up to 1955)

Burrell Seed Growers, LLC (2013-today)