Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Toast to Roy Fukuda and his Celery

Though we prefer using celery to stir our bloody mary, tonight we'll pass a stalk briefly through our beer for a ceremonial stir in honor of an important local farmer and celery grower.

Roy Fukuda was born on March 10th, 1875. His celery was world-famous!

Pacific Northwest Garden History says:
Grower and plant breeder who developed 'Golden Plume' celery, once described by those in the know as the best variety of celery in the world.

Fukuda, a Japanese-American, was originally a section hand for the railroad. In 1909, he took up farming at Lake Labish near Salem, Oregon, and began growing celery. Within a few years, he had developed a new variety called 'Golden Plume.' It was an early variety, one that turned clear yellow when it was blanched, a trait considered very desirable at the time. What set 'Golden Plume' apart from other varieties of celery was its exceptional quality. Burpee's 1941 catalog offered a rave review of this variety, noting "Some gardeners consider it the best early celery in existence…Plants …have a …thick, creamy heart of the highest table quality." Today, only a handful of seed companies still offer 'Golden Plume,' but Fukuda's contribution to celery-growing lives on. 'Golden Plume' is thought to be the forerunner of all choice varieties.

Read more about the Fukuda family in Stephanie Knowlton's Statesman piece on Fukuda, Lake Labish, and the Japanese internment. The Oregon Encyclopedia also has a more general article.

Fukuda is buried in the Salem Pioneer Cemetery. His descendents still live in and around Salem.

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