James R. Baggett was born on April 24, 1928 to James and Laura
Baggett in Boise, Idaho. As a child in the depression-era, early
life was hard but full. After his mother passed away due to
complications in pregnancy when he was four years old, he moved
to his paternal grandparents farm with his father and younger
brother. He was reportedly, "well loved."
Growing up, work was hard, the tasks varied, but always centered
around agriculture. He worked at a feed mill, raised livestock,
gardened, hayed, harvested potatoes, milked cows, and excelled
in school. After high school, he enlisted and served in the Navy
for two years and upon returning home, enrolled in the college
He graduated with a bachelor's degree in
agriculture from the University of Idaho in 1952. He
completed his doctorate in 1956 at Oregon State University.
After becoming a faculty member at OSU,
he continued his work on breeding peas, beans, cabbage, and
broccoli that he had begun as a graduate student.
the retirement of his mentor and colleague,
William A. ("Tex")
Frazier in 1973, Dr. Baggett became head of the vegetable
breeding program at OSU.
Baggett had a productive and fruitful, 30-year career as a vegetable breeder.
His contributions were made through improvement and adaptation of
many varieties of garden peas, green beans, broccoli, cabbage, sweet
corn, tomatoes, carrots as well as other vegetables with a
concentration on breeding and testing of vegetables for processing, fresh
market, and home garden use, primarily in western Oregon. Home
gardeners all over Oregon are familiar with his tomato and pea
varieties, some of which are listed below.
He has published many articles
and has been recognized nationally by a variety of food and
agriculture organizations. Awards include the Award for Meritorious
Service (1989) from the National Pea Improvement Association, the National Food Producers Award for Raw Products Research
(1978), the Agricultural Service Award (1986)
and the Distinguished Service Award (1990) from the Northwest
Food Processors Association.
Dr. Baggett retired in 1995 and was a professor emeritus of horticulture at
Oregon State University. He, "completed an epic life on Jan. 21, 2016."
You can read
more about his accomplishments, interests and hobbies in his
obituary by clicking here.
Introductions: Here are some of the more that forty five
vegetable varieties that Dr. Baggett introduced during his career.