One Of The Last Farms Where Potatoes Are Still Picked By Hand

Discussion in 'Crops & Gardens' started by Ken Anderson, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Here's a nice article and video of a potato farm in St. Francis, Maine where potatoes are still picked by hand, largely by family members. Most of them harvest their potatoes automatically now, leaving all the smaller ones behind.
     
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  2. Shirley Martin

    Shirley Martin Veteran Member
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    Very interesting.
     
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  3. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    When I lived in Idaho we had some potato farmers up north near the Canadian border. Most of the Idaho potatoes come from southern Idaho; but apparently they grew just fine in the northern part in some places as well.
    Since we lived in a small town with not much in the way of employment, especially for women, working in the local harvest was what a lot of us ended up doing.
    Spring was the hop fields, planting training, and then harvesting the (stinky) hops. By the time that was done, it was time for potato harvest, and after that came the Christmas trees.
    I worked in the hops and Christmas trees; but only lasted one day (one MISERABLE DAY) at the potato farm. They sorted the potatoes on conveyer belts, and there was a belt going each way, right in front of you.
    If you could only look at the top belt, it was not too awful, but when there was one running each way, that was bad. I was SO sick and dizzy ! !
    I did not eat my lunch, or want to even look at it.
    That night, I apologized to the owner and told him that I was not a productive worker there and was not going to be back.
    He said they had a lot of people that couldn't stand working with the conveyer belts, and he didn't have any other jobs that he could put me on; so that was the end of me working in the potato harvests.
     
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  4. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I was fascinated by the potato sorting belts, which would sort the potatoes by size. The smaller ones were rejected, as were the very large ones, and these are the ones that would end up in our potato cellar. During harvest season, local kids mostly, from the age of about ten or younger through those who were college age, would do the harvest, going from one farm to another.

    Local farmers would help one another too. Let's say my uncle's field was to be harvested first. We'd all help harvest his crop, then move on to my dad's crop, and then to someone else's, and so on.

    There was only one year that I can remember when they brought in Mexican labor for the potato harvest. Either everyone grew potatoes that year or it was an especially good year, I don't know, but local people picked too. We were paid according to what we picked. I don't know if the older kids were paid more because they were older or because they picked that much more, but they made a lot more money than the younger kids did.
     
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  5. Bobby Cole

    Bobby Cole Very Well-Known Member
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    The Hebron and Grace Colonies in Boone, North Carolina farms about 50 acres of potatoes a year. It's a Christian recovery facility and the men and women plant, grow and hand pick the potatoes for the market and for their own food storage as well.
    You guys should see some of them who aren't used to work trying to get through the first few days! It is indeed an OMG moment when they come in at the end of the day.
    I remember the lady's councelor commenting on the fact that she even had to teach women over 30 years of age how to sew on a button so obviously farm life wasn't the first thought of many of the folks up there who are in the program.
     
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  6. Corie Henson

    Corie Henson Very Well-Known Member
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    Over here, potatoes are farmed by hand and harvest is done by temporary workers. It is actually interesting for me to see how you guys do your mechanized farming there. But anyway, this reminds me of an article I had read in a magazine a long, long time ago. It is about the harvest of potatoes, onions and other farm produce that failed in the quality control - for having the wrong size. The "defective" produce are piled up in a mountain that is free for anyone. The article writer had focused on the enterprising Filipinos who would get those free vegetables for personal consumption. I don't know if that style of quality control still exist there.
     
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