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Garden Way Publishing Company Records

Identifier: mss-060

Scope and Content

The Garden Way Publishing Company Collection consists of twenty cartons of material dealing with all aspects of the Garden Way Publishing operation in Charlotte, Vermont. However, while the subject content of the collection is broad, the range of dates narrows the focus, spanning only one decade 1970-1980. Thus the collection contains a little material on a variety of subjects. For the sake of simplicity and clarity, the collection is arranged alphabetically by subject, and then chronologically within each subject series. A "Table of Contents" quickly identifies all subject area included in the collection.

Some of these subject series are comprised of only one folder, while others fill several cartons. The "Catalog" series, for example, is fairly extensive (2.5 cartons), as it contains material concerning Garden Way Publishing's annual Book Catalog. The bulk of this material consists of orders to and invoices from other publishers whose books were advertised in the Garden Way Publishing Book Catalog.

A little more than one carton full, "Daily Sheets" is also an important series, as it contains records of the daily financial transactions of books sold at Garden Way Publishing for the entire year of 1977.

"Marketing," "Production," and "Sales" are all substantial and essential series, containing material pertaining to these various stages in the publishing process.

"Personnel" is also an extended series, consisting largely of correspondence to and from a variety of Garden Way Publishing staff members and freelance editors, publicists, and consultants. Figuring prominently in this series are: Jack Williamson, Publisher; Roger Griffith, Senior Editor; Walter Hard Jr., Editor; and Dick Raymond, Consultant. In addition, this series includes some files on staff members from other Garden Way affiliates, particularly from Garden Way Associates in Norwalk, Connecticut. Some important names which appear from this division include: Paul Sampson, Chairman of Garden Way Associates; Bill Prophet, Executive Vice President; Jess Clarke, Vice President, Marketing; John Davies, Vice President, Public Relations; and from Garden Way Manufacturing in Troy, NY, Ed Scofield, Vice President, Mail Order Marketing.

The largest series in the collection is the "Garden Way Titles" series which makes up almost half of the collection. This series consists of material relating to a number of books published by Garden Way Publishing in the 1970's. This material includes correspondence with authors, background research, typescripts, galleys, production mechanicals, promotion materials, and reviews. A list of the titles included in the series precedes the Shelf List.

Carton number twenty of the collection contains a number of Accounting Source Documents, such as check stub books, and bank deposit records. These documents provide additional financial information for the years 1971-1975, thereby supplementing the "Accounting" series.

The final item in the collection is an oversized folder, containing ad layouts. This material can be considered as part of the "Marketing" series.


  • 1970-1981



Collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Collection does not circulate.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.


1940's - Ed and Carolyn Robinson write The Have-more Plan. It is published by Norton Publishing, and distributed by The Country Bookstore.

1960 - Dick Denholtz joins Norton Publishing as Advertising Manager

1966 - Lyman Wood serves as consultant to Watco Machine Products, Troy, NY

1967 - PMA purchases a 62% interest in Watco

1967 - Dean Leith Jr. joins the Troy operation, is made an equal partner in PMA and Watco

1968 - Watco becomes Garden Way Manufacturing

1970 - Garden Way Research established.

1971 - Gardens For All established.

1973 - Garden Way Living Center opened in Burlington, Vermont.

1976 - Garden Way Country Kitchen Catalog established.

1976 - Precision Marketing Associates, Inc. becomes Garden Way Associates, Inc.

1978 - All Garden Way companies combine under the name Garden Way, Inc.

1982 - Corporate coup in Charlotte. Wood ousted, new Board of Directors formed. Corporate Headquarters moved to Troy, New York.

Historical Note

In the early forties, during World War II, a couple by the name of Ed and Carolyn Robinson grew tired of the frantic scramble of urban life. They bought some land in Connecticut, and moved to the country. Lyman P. Wood, a friend of the Robinson's shared their interest is self-sufficient living. He suggested that many unhappy urbanites would also be interested in the Robinson's rural experiences. As a result, Ed and Carol wrote their book: The Have-more Plan - A Little Land, A Lot of Living.

This title was published by the Norton Publishing Co., of Darien, CT, a company owned by Wood and two partners, Wally Boren and C. Eric Lundberg. To market the book, Wood, Robinson, and a third man, John Keane, set up the Country Bookstore a mail-order house featuring self-sufficiency books and pamphlets. Wood had been accurate in his assessment of the book's marketing potential, as public response was instantaneous and favorable.

Wood moved to Charlotte, VT, in 1951, but he continued to direct his business in Connecticut. In 1960, Dick Denholtz was hired as Advertising Manager of the Noroton Publishing Co. In 1966, Noroton formed an in-house advertising agency, called Precision Marketing Associates, Inc. (PMA). Wood, Denholtz, Keane, and Lundberg became equal partners and corporate officers in this new company.

The Garden Way Publishing Co. was also formed in 1966, in Charlotte, by the same four partners. The "Garden Way" name was coined when this venture published its first title: The Garden Way to Health, Happiness, and Profit, by John Gourlie. Today there are several hundred titles in the Garden Way line, all promoting the Garden Way philosophy of natural self-sufficiency. In the early years, the Garden Way Publishing's annual Book Catalog advertised its own titles as well as titles put out by other publishers, providing that these "outside" titles dealt with suitable Garden Way subjects, and were in Garden Way's estimation, the "best" books on the subjects in question. Around 1975, Garden Way Publishing began carrying only its own titles in the Catalog, which is now issued twice a year.

In addition to pursuing his publishing interests in the 1960's, Wood also served as a consultant to Watco Machine Products of Troy, N.Y, manufacturers of garden tillers. Wood knew that that company was in financial trouble. He became interested in the possibility of Precision Marketing Associates, Inc. gaining control of Watco, and attempting to market the tillers through the mail. The partners at Precision Marketing Associates, Inc. were initially unenthusiastic about this proposition, but Wood provided each of them with a 10,000 bonus from Noroton Publishing, which enabled Precision Marketing Associates, Inc., as a team, to purchase a 62% controlling interest in Watco.

Shortly after this transaction, Dean Leith Jr. joined the team, moving from Connecticut to Troy, in order to help revitalize Watco. In return for his commitment and enthusiasm, the four original members made Leith an equal partner in both Precision Marketing Associates, Inc. and Watco.

These five men were joined by three other shareholders, as a result of the Watco acquisition. They were: George Done, inventor of the "rear-end" Troy-Bilt tiller; Carl Grimm, who owns most of the real estate on which Watco was located; and Pete Maraj, manager and foreman of the plant.

These partners formed a number of Garden Way companies over the years. In 1968, Watco became Garden Way Manufacturing, and Precision Marketing Associates, Inc. was changed to Garden Way Associates, Inc. in 1976.

In the early 1970's, Garden Way Research was established in Charlotte, where it manufactures the famous two-wheeled garden carts, cider presses, loading ramps, and work benches.

Garden Way Living Center, a retail and service outlet, which opened in Burlington, VT in 1973 sells Garden Way and other products for home and garden use. Garden Way has similar retail outlets in several other cities, including Atlanta and Seattle. The most recent Living Center was opened in April of 1982, in Sacramento, California.

Gardens for All, (established in 1971), which operates out of Shelburne, VT, is a non-profit educational foundation that Garden Way helped found in order to promulgate community gardening throughout the United States.

The Garden Way Country Kitchen Catalog, situated in Charlotte, began business in 1976. It is a catalog operation which sells hard-to-find quality kitchen tools, primarily centered around food-preserving items.

In 1978, these various Garden Way companies were combined under the name of Garden Way, Inc., each affiliate becoming a division of the parent company. Wood retained actual day-to-day control of operations, particularly in marketing.

On January 28, 1982, this control was wrested from Wood's grasp, when he and more than 20 top Garden Way, Inc. employees in Vermont were ousted from their jobs in a corporate coup that moved control of the company from Wood and the Vermont officers to a generally Troy-orientated list of employees.

Sources: Gillmor, Dan. "Lightning Shakeup at Garden Way a Bitter Coup." Barre Times-Argus, Four-part series of articles, February 21, 22, 23, 24, 1982

Hicks, John. "Garden Way Inc.... Its History, Progress, Techniques," Direct Marketing Magazine, November, 1978. p. 74-106

Please note: Both of these sources can be found, in their entirety, in the "Inventory" folder of this collection, (carton 1, folder 1).


28.0 Linear feet (28 cartons, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials



Garden Way Publishing existed primarily as a mail-order publishing house specializing in books on self-sufficiency and natural alternatives. Collection includes correspondence, typescripts, galleys, production notes, production mechanicals, reviews, art work, and photos, relating to titles published by the company; together with material relating to accounting, title selection, production, sales, and marketing, Gardens for All, and the Garden Way Living Center, Burlington, Vt.; and correspondence between employees of Garden Way Publishing Company, Garden Way Manufacturing, and Garden Way Associates, the parent company.

Physical Location

Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Guide to the Garden Way Publishing Company Records
Finding aid prepared by Mary Gelinas
1982 April
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)