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.
It is some time since we commented on the effete system of premiums as given at horticultural exhibitions, and suggested improvements thereon. What we said seemed to be wasted. The old system prevails, and all around us societies "go down," as they will go, until some new method of rewarding skill is inaugurated. There is practically nothing to exhibit, for in the great majority of cases the money value of the premiums being generally far below the cost of exhibition, - the honor and credit given still less, - and the influence for good on the community so very small, that few can bring themselves to a cheerful answer as to the use of exhibiting at all. Instead of exhibitors coming forward willingly with their products, it is in a majority of cases, up-hill work for committees to bring them out at all, and it generally ends by the exhibitor vowing it is the last time you will find him there.
The weak point is that not enough is done to give due honor and credit to the good things an exhibitor may have. The jury should be compelled to give their reasons for the award, and the society should make it a point to publish far and wide the meritorious features of the fair. The mere fact that Jacob Holloway was awarded fifty cents for a string of onions on exhibition, does not in any way aid horticulture, and the bare announcement of this fact in the official proceedings, which nobody reads, is of no concern to anybody but to Jacob Holloway himself.
Even Jacob is only interested to the extent that it only cost him a quarter to get the articles there, and that he has made twenty-five cents; besides, gets a free ticket, as an exhibitor, to the fair. We would not abolish money premiums, by any means. We would rather make them larger. But the point is, that it should be only a small part of the society's duty to provide for them. As it is now, there is very little, beyond the mere money view, to bring out an exhibit, and this will not excite the enthusiasm necessary to make societies a success.