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Local Food Journey

Potato Patch

Posted by Tony Ricci on 08/22 at 10:14 PM

Potato Field. Photo Courtesy Wikipedia.

It’s hard to keep focused on a farm in the middle of August. Most people think of it as the beginning of harvest time, with smooth sailing into bucolic fall days as we stuff our coolers, barns and root cellars with nature’s bounty.

In reality it’s always harvest time on a vegetable farm and August poses a special challenge because after months of ceaseless activity fueled on the previous winter’s lethargy, the farmer has to pull out of some unmentionable orifice the energy and enthusiasm that made spring planting seem so appealing.

The only appealing activity this time of year is the one hour of REM sleep a farmer gets just before the sun crawls over the ridge.

Somehow fall planting has to get started just when the ten foot lamb’s quarters and pig weed are calling out to be mowed.

That’s why last Friday was set aside for us to get some lettuce and herbs into the ground after spending way too much time in the greenhouse. Of course, that’s not what happened on Friday.

As I was doing a bit of early morning weed whacking in the potato patch I noticed a few greening crowns poking through the surface. I was staring immanent disaster in the face. It’s amazing how these little panic attacks can really get the adrenalin going. So I went back into the packing shed and announced a change of plans to the consternation of my workers. They were just becoming comfortable with the prospect of spending the afternoon kneeling in front of seedlings and maybe taking in a bit of recreational weeding just to break the monotony. 

So as the buckets resound with the kerplunk of dancing russets someone pipes up in a slightly accusatory tone, laced with the insinuation that farmers are only slightly saner than ether addicts, “So why did we change plans today?”

“Uh, Well. That’s a good question,” I reply.

And I don my ear protection, mount the tractor and dig another row. That’s about the time I feel the slight atmospheric disturbance caused by the acceleration of a spud-like projectile arcing over my shoulder. I look behind and everyone is busily sifting through the soil as if they were searching for the lost treasure of Cortes, except for my dog who stares up at me with a potato clenched in his jaws.

So now you know what we’re pushing this week. Everyone is required to buy Russet potatoes this week, otherwise my dog will eat them all.

{name} Author: Tony Ricci
Bio: Co-owner and operator of Green Heron Farm in southern Huntingdon County | Provides year-round supplies of local, organic vegetables (retail and wholesale) across central Pennsylvania

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