Monday, March 25, 2013

Important Iowans: Henrey Ames Field

Henry Ames Field
(December 6, 1871 - October 17, 1949)

--nurseryman and radio broadcaster-- was as much a man of the soil and of the airwaves as Iowa has ever produced. His seed and nursery company was among the most famous and successful in the nation, and his broadcasts over the radio station he established in Shenandoah, Iowa, made him an institution for famers and gardeners throughout Iowa and the Midwest.

Field was born in Page County, Iowa, the oldest of the eight children. As a lad he went around Shenandoah selling vegetables and seeds harvested from the garden on the Field family farm. In 1889 he graduated from Shenandoah High school and, after attending Normal College in Shenandoah, became a country schoolteacher. He devoted his summers to cultivating a truck farm on property near Shenandoah that he called Sleepy Hallow, and in 1899 he published a four-page catalog to broaden the market for his seeds.

As his agricultural enterprise a seed house in Shenandoah, and in 1907 incorporated the Henry Field Seed Company. He made himself accessible to seedhouse visitors by placing his business desk in the corner of the store and chatting with everyone who came by. The catalogs that helped fuel his success offered folksy information for gardeners and farmers. They evolved into regular issues of a magazine titles Seed Sense, a combination almanac and mail-order seed catalog that the subtitle announced was "For the Man Behind the Hoe."

The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa, edited by David Hudson, Marvin Bergman, and Loren Horton

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