Father of Georgia Peach Culture
Prosper Jules Alphonse Berckmans was born on October 13, 1830 in Belgium between Louis Mathieu Eduard Berckmans and his wife Marie Gaudens.
Berckmans was a well known horticulturalist and recognized as the Father of Georgia Peach Culture. He improved the Chinese Cling variety of peach, which eventually produced Georgia's primary commercial varieties of peaches including Elberta, Belle and Thurber. Berckmans' Thurber became the leading variety in the mid 1800s until it was replaced by the Elberta.
Berckmans owned Fruitland Nurseries from 1867 to his death in 1910 in Augusta, Georgia.
He sent the first commercial shipment of Georgia Peaches to New York market in 1858.
Berckmans founded the Georgia State Horticultural Society in 1876 and served as President until his death.
Berckmans' nursery mailed out nearly 25,000 catalogs a year by the 1880s, many of which were sent overseas.
Berckmans was a frequent contributor to publications such as "Garden Magazines" and "Gardener's Monthly."
His sons initiated and successfully completed the largest peach deal ever made in Georgia in 1912, selling their entire year's peach crop to a New Jersey firm for as much as $100,000.
Berckmans' son, L.A. Berckmans, at the age of 74 returned to the Fruitland property to help design the landscape of the golf course and to serve in an advisory capacity of the club in 1931. His other son, P.J.A., at the age 65 also served the Club as General Manager. Together they were able to save over 4,000 old trees on the course. Each of the 18 holes is named for and is dominated by a different plant.