The Legend of Diederik Leertouwer and Asparagus in New England
Diederik Leertouwer came to this country in 1784 to promote trade between the Netherlands and New England. He later settled with his wife and daughter
in West Brookfield where he carried out his duties as Consul and lived here between the years 1794 and 1798. At that time West Brookfield had a population greater than Worcester and was being considered for the county seat.
Local legend has it that Diederik Leertouwer imported asparagus from his homeland and was the first to plant it in this area. This fact was forgotten until it was discovered in an old cookbook. Wild asparagus still grows in this area today.
Leertouwer died here and is buried in the Old Indian Cemetery on Cottage Street, West Brookfield.
His Gravestone Inscription reads:
“In memory of the honorable Diederik Leertouwer Esq.,