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Catalog and Seed Sales title

The Dust Bowl and Great Depression had an impact on the company as well as regional gardens. The 1932 essay prayed: “Let this be a good year of home gardens.” (italics in the catalog). Prices also dropped overall. For instance, if a customer bought one packet of each size of the dwarf peas in 1931, the cost would have been $29.88. However, in 1932, the same collection of peas would cost $24.92. The prices declined on the larger seed packets. The quarter ounce seed packet remained the same.

George Will welcomed the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) in 1934. He also noted that “During the past year of poor crops and unemployment the general opinion seems to be that vegetable gardens have been worth millions of dollars to the people of the country and especially of the Northwest.” Then Will entered into a dispute taking place within the NDAC which forced the resignation of A. F. Yeager to whom Will credited “many hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions of the value of vegetable crops in the Northwest . . . .” Yeager had resigned under duress; Will felt he had been wronged by the NDAC and that his contributions had been undervalued at the college. Yeager went on to another position and his new varieties (NH usually preceded the name) continued to appear in the Oscar H. Will & Co. catalog.

Will’s comments on the growing season of 1934 echoed those of Lillian Foell and Ann Low. “Our corn crop around Bismarck was the nearest to a total failure that we have seen in 53 years. Our gardens and experimental patches were dried out, hailed out, eaten by blackbirds, rabbits, pheasants, rats and bugs, and we had the earliest frost in years.” (1935 essay) The following year, 1935, was better, but 1936 brought a return of “the worst drouth in the history of the Northwest [which] has caused severe damage to us all . . . . But in spite of the damage, it has made us wonder at the ability of Northern Great plains soil combined with Northern Great plains climate to produce something under even the most adverse conditions.” Even in these gloomy years Will maintained an optimistic spirit. Rarely, if ever, did his spirit rest on flowers or ornamentals. He occasionally mentioned corn (field corn seed was a major source of income), but usually when his faith was tested, he restored it in reference to vegetable gardens.