The packing shed is crammed 50lb bags of potatoes ready for delivery. This is one of three rows of potatoes that are being delivered on Monday. All week the grading line goes full tilt to keep up with orders from restaurants that are planning for one of their busiest days of the year this Friday. Where are you getting your fish & chips from?! You can visit “Chip Butty Recipe” for a fun and very different recipe involving fresh cut fries.
Winter has returned with a real vengeance here in Southern Ontario. The intense snowfall and howling winds cannot touch our potatoes that are safely housed in our potato storages. The photo above shows one of our potato storages that are usually filled to capacity after the fall harvest. Over the winter we carefully maintain and monitor temperature and humidity levels to preserve the potatoes until we are ready to pack them for our customers. To have a closer look at the inside of one of our storages you can visit “A Rare Occurrence.”
The past month found us struggling with intense Internet and Wi-Fi issues here at the farm (which is something most of you can probably relate to!) Many frustrating issues have been completely resolved and I am back on track to keep you interested and informed about what’s going on here at the farm. This blog is simply called “What’s Growing.” This past weekend we had beautiful weather and all our crops benefited from it. The potatoes are just coming into flower which means tiny spuds are forming underground. The sweet corn seems to be recovering from a rather rocky start with the cold, wet spring we had. The pumpkins and squash have been planted and are forming some really nice looking seedlings. And the winter wheat is tall and beautiful. To have a look at what was growing at our farm two years ago you can visit “Tater Tales July 18th What’s Growing.”
With the East Gwillimbury Farm To Fork Tour just two days away I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight why this tour is different from just popping into our farm to purchase produce. First and foremost it’s your opportunity to meet me and put a face to a name! We have worked hard to create an event that everyone of all ages can walk away from feeling they had a great visit, learned something new and had a fun time at our farm.
When you purchase a wristband and join the tour we are offering you one 10lb bag of potatoes for just $2.00! You can visit our one day special “Select Your Own Vegetables” section to pick our vegetables that complement my brand new recipe “Roasted Root Vegetables.” We have created a new trivia game based on photos of animals taken around the farm called “Are You Smarter Than A Potato Farmer” that is guaranteed to delight you. New for children under 12 is a free craft where they can create their own Thanksgiving table centerpiece using a pumpkin. Back by popular demand we also have for the kids: a potato dig, free giant colouring posters and nature trivia boards.
And of course our farm fresh produce will be available for purchase for your perfect Thanksgiving dinner including our new line of pumpkins and squash. From local farmers we also have onions, turnips, field tomatoes, cabbages and much more. There are many other activities going on at our farm on Saturday beyond the items I have outlined above, but if I told you everything that would ruin the surprise! Hope to meet you this weekend! To learn more about the tour and to buy tickets you can visit http://experienceeg.ca/farm-to-fork/ For our location, hours of operation and directions to the farm you can visit "Contact Us."
This video clip is of the tail end of our grading line. Today we are packing new white potatoes that have already been washed and graded. They are now sorted into two different packing lines. The line closest to the front holds our medium white potatoes that are mainly packed in 10lb bags for grocery stores and for sale at the farm door. The line at the far back shows our large white potatoes packed in 50lb bags for restaurant delivery and wholesale at the Ontario Food Terminal. To learn more about grading potatoes you can visit “What’s A #1 Potato Anyway?”
Early yesterday morning I headed out to the back field to dig up some new potatoes for dinner. The fields were gorgeous with the sun sparkling on the dewy plants. The potato plants are tall, healthy and very green. They are in full flower which means they are growing tubers that are maturing into potatoes. You can see all the new potatoes attached to the plant I pulled up, as well as the seed potato which is the dark brown potato in the middle of the cluster. For all kinds of interesting facts about potatoes you can visit “Spud Smarts – About Potatoes.”
Russet potatoes anyone? We’ve got you covered whether you’re a consumer looking for a fresh product for your home, a chip truck looking for a potato supplier for the upcoming summer season or a restaurant looking for a year round quality potato. John and Shelby are standing in front of one pile of our popular Russet potatoes in one of our storages. Russet potatoes are extremely versatile. Their shape is ideal for chipping into french fries, the flesh is outstanding as a baked potato, and as you can see from the slideshow, they can be used in many other recipes to create delicious food. All of the dishes featured in this slideshow were created in my kitchen. The recipes can be found on this website in “Spud Smarts – About Cooking Potatoes” and in the recipe category of The Common-Tater. You can watch a video of our potatoes travelling into the storage for the winter by visiting “The Potato Bin Filler.”
So let’s talk about grading potatoes. If I had to summarize what this means in one sentence I would say…”Grading potatoes separates the good from the bad and the ugly.”
All our potatoes are run over our grading line before they are packaged and sold. There is a sizing belt where mini potatoes are removed. We pick out any potatoes that have green marks caused by inadvertent exposure to sunlight, potatoes with machine damage and extra-large potatoes. Heart shaped, U shaped, and extra bumps on potatoes are a few examples of potato shapes that are also pulled out during the grading process. These oddly shaped potatoes lead to fun photo opportunities.
Once these potatoes are removed, we are left with “No 1” grade. Have a closer look at the next bag of potatoes you come across from our farm and you will see it has a line that states it contains “No 1” potatoes. As for what happens to the “No 2” potatoes that have been removed, that’s another story for a different day. To see more about our potatoes you can visit “What We Offer – Potatoes.”
After months of tending the crop, we have finally reached the ultimate reward – new potatoes.
Flowers begin to form once the potato plant is fully grown. Tuber initiation occurs around the same time the potato plant starts to flower. It takes several weeks after flowering for the tubers to grow big enough to eat. As with most living entities, the plants get ready for reproduction as their life cycle comes to completion. Potato reproduction is a very interesting topic as the plants reproduce two ways – but that’s another story for a different day.
This is the only time of year we can harvest potatoes and sell potatoes without a set skin. The lack of set skin makes a big difference in how the potatoes can be stored. During this growing stage they are tender. We only harvest the amount we are planning on packing and selling the next day.
Our early variety of potatoes is called AC Chaleur. It is a popular choice for our restaurants and chip trucks since the potatoes do not have to be peeled. They just need to be lightly washed and cooked. They are a treat to eat whether they are boiled, baked or turned into French fries or home fries. My favourite way to cook them is to simply boil them so the full flavour of the potato can be enjoyed.
To get more information about our potatoes and how we package and sell them, visit “What We Offer – Potatoes.”
Thompson Potato Farm
Farming is fascinating!