About Us: AAS History
All-America Selections History
Before AAS, in the 1920's and 30's, consumer magazine editors knew little about new garden varieties and had few resources to obtain reliable information. As a result, articles were sometimes misleading or incorrect. The "Garden Club" movement was in its infancy and needed material. Home, farm seed and florist magazines all were hungry for garden news.
In 1932, W. Ray Hastings was president of the Southern Seedsmen's Association of Atlanta, Georgia. He proposed the idea of All-America Selections as a way for home gardeners to learn which new varieties are truly improved. To do so, he encouraged all seed companies to set up trial grounds, cooperatively test new varieties and agree to develop marketing efforts for new vegetables and flowers.
Mr. Hastings recommended a national network of trial grounds throughout North American climates where flower and vegetable varieties would be grown and assessed by skilled, impartial judges. The seed trials would accept only new, previously unsold varieties.
AAS was founded in 1932 and the first AAS Winners were announced a year later, after the results were tabulated from the first trial. AAS Winners have been introduced each year since 1933. In 1934, there were 30 AAS Award Winning new varieties introduced, a record number.
AAS Trials have been conducted every year since 1932. The number of Judges and sites may vary, but the trials are always conducted each year. There are two types of awards in four categories of trials. There is an AAS Gold Medal Award, only given once or twice a decade, and is reserved for a breeding breakthrough. The other AAS Award recognizes a flower or vegetable for significant achievements, proven to be superior to other like varieties on the market. The four categories of trials and awards are Flower, Bedding Plant, Vegetable and Cool Season Bedding Plant.
AAS does not advertise the AAS Award Winners. AAS relies upon a public relations program to inform gardeners about AAS Winners that are announced three time each year in November, January and July. Consumer magazines, newspapers, garden and lifestyle blogs, garden club bulletins and cooperative extension agents are depended upon to introduce AAS Winners to home gardeners.
AAS continues as the oldest, most established international testing organization in North America, celebrating our 80th anniversary in 2012.