My big adventure to Burpee Home Gardens headquarters
I love my job. I really do. I travel all over creation and back, to tell the stories of people and places doing great things for the planet through gardening. Not a bad gig, I’ll admit. But variety is the spice of life, and once in a while, we all need a break from the rigors and routines of our everyday life. For me, that near-daily grind means one airport after another, squeezing in a few cities during each trip, and never looking up to smell the roses. There’s no time.
That’s why I was so excited to finally have a day to tour the corporate headquarters of Ball Horticulture Company and Burpee Home Gardens. No crew, no deadlines, and no major responsibilities this day. It was customer appreciation day, so they rolled out the red carpet, opened their doors and provided a spectacular event for strolling the grounds and gardens, breaking bread with friends, and a behind-the-scenes look at some of their newest innovations with seed technology.
Although I was officially there to share a couple of “dazzling” presentations from my perspective in media, on how to best connect with gardeners to Ball’s retail customers, it was I who was amazed and impressed by what all is going on with Burpee Home Gardens and Ball Horticulture. On the acres and acres of beautiful grounds, there are many, and I mean many large display and trial gardens. They grow multiple varieties of the same types of plants and then constantly evaluate performance in a real-world scenario.
On the day I was there, I observed some very cool and unusual things, from their ultra-modern seed coating system, to a guy with a souped-up iPad, carefully inspecting the tomato beds, turning over leaves, taking close up pictures and tapping dutifully on his electronic screen. I asked him what he was up to and learned he’s a plant breeder, specializing in tomatoes. So I asked, what’s the tomato equivalent to the Holy Grail? In my attempt to engage this young plant-scientist in some “peer to peer” conversation, I asked the most obvious of questions. Accordingly, his answer was polite but in hindsight, all too predictable: “Why that would be to breed the most disease resistant, most favorable slicer ever.” Duh! Nice question Joe!
My tour of the gardens and grounds ended all too quickly, but not before I had a chance to pose with a cardboard cutout…a first for me! Before I knew it, my garden tour and two presentations were over and it was back to reality, racing to catch that next flight. But this time, the ride to the airport was a little bit sweeter. It had been a great day, a chance to catch up on some great horticulture innovations, see some old friends, and make a few new ones. Plus, I was going home. And that’s always a good thing!