Pemberton is nicknamed Spud Valley for good reason. Potatoes are the number one crop grown in the valley. The soil here is amazing for growing all kinds of vegetables but potatoes especially love it. The families who immigrated from Ireland and settled here in the early 1900’s saw this and started to grow potatoes. Thus the legend of the Pemberton potato was born.
Fast forward to today. There are 9 farms in the valley growing Elite Seed Potatoes. It takes us 3 or 4 years to get a crop that we will sell and ship off our farm. We grow our potatoes strictly to sell for seed to other potato growers who then may plant them for 1 or 2 more years before they end up in a store and on your plate.
The first year starts with what we call tissue culture plants. These are basically potato plant stem cuttings produced in a plant propagation facility that is co operatively run buy the farmers. Thousands of these plants are produced and planted in the field or in a screen house.
Our operation runs a screen house. This small house will produce enough potatoes to plant 40 or 50 acres in 3 years. These plants are amazing! Whenever I plant them I just can’t believe that these tiny fragile cuttings are going to grow into anything. Watered and cared for all summer long and they do it. They grow into beautiful big potato plants that produce tiny little tubers that will then become the base of our seed crop which we will sell in 4 years.
The potatoes that we harvest from our screen house are called mini tubers. Tiny little potatoes that we harvest, in the fall, by hand and store for the winter, planting them the following spring. They will be harvested and planted 3 more times. And so begins the circle of life for the famous Pemberton Potato.
I had no idea it took that long to produce a seed potato — and eventually an edible potato. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing.
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Wonderful history of the spud!
[…] Here’s a little explanation of all the hard work that goes on upstream to get a Pemberton potato onto a dinner table. […]
I was browsing through some wordpress blogs and found this. What a feeling of nostalgia ! Being as I grew up right next door to that farm it takes me back to a time of simplicity and the beauty of the Pemberton Mountains. Ellen (Marinus) Cayzer
How fantastic, Ellen! Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. And thanks for your blog, too… that chocolate date cup recipe definitely looks like something I’ll have to try.