During a tour of UMass Amherst last summer, I heard it mentioned that the nearby town of Hadley was once deemed the Asparagus Capital of the World. Unfortunately, due to a random soil fungus that ravaged the crops in the 1970s, that title has been stripped from the western Massachusetts town.

At its peak, Hadley likely did not measure up to the volume of asparagus that was being pumped out of places such as California and Michigan, but the quality of the asparagus was universally viewed as the best in the world.

The self-proclaimed title of "Asparagus Capital of the World" was very much based on quality, not quantity.

Here's where it gets interesting. It turns out that the high quality asparagus is so good it was eaten by royalty.  I never would have guessed that during that tour of the commonwealth's flagship state university I would have learned a very interesting fact about the royal family.

Apparently, the asparagus from Hadley was so world-renowned that chefs for the royal family would specifically seek it out to be served at Buckingham Palace. Queen Elizabeth II was particularly fond of asparagus and enjoyed, in particular, what is nicknamed "Hadley Grass."

Imagine asparagus that was so good, it was fit for a queen.

Sadly, the asparagus production in Hadley is a shadow of its former self.  Local asparagus growers couldn't rebound from that devastating soil issue from the 1970s.

Hadley now grows only about 10% of the asparagus it once grew during its peak.

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