By the 19th century, the unique kind of savoury onion ‘russky zolotisty’ ‘(Russian goldish’) had been bred in Bessonovka. It was bitterer (more savoury) than traditional breeds that was highly appreciated, and the bulb was flattened. Besides that, this onion can be stored for a long time that is always important.
The glory of ‘bitter’ products of the Penza government resounded outside the country. Since 1860, the breed has been exported to Germany, Tunisia, France, Algeria, England, and other countries. Till the beginning of the First World War, the Penza government ranked at the second place by onion export after the Kursk government.
The report of the chief of police of the Penza uyezd (administrative subdivision) of 1904 shows the volume of onions at that time: during that year, they exported 310 wagons of onions from Bessonovka (a two-axle wagon carrying capacity amounted to 35 tons at that time), half of which was intended for foreign countries.
During those years, the village was prosperous thanks to onion. Hard-working peasants united to establish artels, thus they cooperated with onion production constantly increasing onion plantations. Bessonovka achieved the fame of the onion capital of the government in the 19th century. It is just a golden onion that adorns the area coat of arms symbolizing peasants’ diligence, unity, and connection with the past.
In 2013, the first Russian museum dedicated to the most famous vegetable of the area – a goldish onion – being the beauty and the pride of local farmers, opened in Bessonovka.
In this museum you can learn the story of area kolkhozes (collective farms) and sovkhozes (state farms), specialists on onions, use of onion in medicine and cooking. When visiting the museum, you’ll learn how this topic came into Bessonovka folklore and science, as well as innovations in onion cultivation technology.