This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In Onondaga county, Central New York, the basket willow is cultivated and manufactured on a large scale, and is, in fact, a leading industry. The cultivation is increasing very rapidly, and is a great benefit to this and neighboring counties. The baskets made from this willow are better and cheaper than the splint basket, and raising the stock is found to pay much better than other farm crops, while the manufacture gives employment to hundreds of men, women and children, who would otherwise have nothing to do during the winter. These willows are grown on high land and on low land, on wet and dry land, and on very cheap land, and on land that is worth $1,000 per acre. The willow needs to be planted but once, and an average yearly crop can not be worth less than $100 per acre. As the timber suitable for baskets is getting scarce and dear, it is plain that the demand for willow will increase every year. In most parts of the country are Germans who understand working the willow, and it is a great benefit to them and to their neighbors to have this industry introduced. Not one farmer in a dozen has on his place as many baskets as he reeds, for the reason that they are scarce and dear.
This willow is the easiest thing in the world to raise, and yet we import from Europe $5,000,000 worth a year. About two hundred tons of willow are manufactured every year in one little village in this State. One man in Syracuse told me he would send to New York this winter one hundred and forty tons of peeled willow, mostly of his own growing. In all the large cities more or less willow is manufactured every year, and the amount thus worked in the city of Milwaukee is very large. This industry is a benefit to the whole community, and deserves to be encouraged; and the West especially should take a deep interest in extending it. The fact that it gives employment to the poor during the winter, thus making comfort take the place of want, should exert a great influence in its favor. Here then is a means by which the farmer can put money in his pocket, and help his poor neighbor at the same time. I have no interest in this matter, as I do not raise, buy or sell, but I do know it has been a great blessing to our State. There is one variety grown here that is much preferred to any other, but I can not find out the true name for it.
Even the man that brought it here does not know its name.
Long Island, New York.