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My Potato Farmers, Then and Now

By Susie Middleton | April 05, 2014

10171130_10203818806489450_6846942003228336987_nMy mother took a lot (I mean, a lot) of photos of us growing up. We complained. Kids often do.

I have turned into my mother, of course.

My favorite (human) subjects are Roy and Libby. So far, Libby has been an incredibly good sport about this. However, you may notice that there are not many pictures of Roy straight on. That’s because he makes a funny face every time I try to take his picture. So I usually have to catch him doing something (which is really the way I prefer to photograph people anyway).

But this weekend he reached out to put his arm around Libby, very proud of the help she’d just given him with planting potatoes. I took a few shots and posted this one (above) on Instagram and Facebook (as I do with some sort of photo almost every day…usually of my other favorite subjects—food, plants, or farm detritus). Normally I don’t then use those daily photos on the blog, but this one brought forth such a warm response from so many people (even some I ran into in the grocery store!) that I thought I’d share it here with folks who don’t see those sites.

And because, in my ongoing surprise at how time flies, I realize this is my second favorite Roy-and-Libby-with-potatoes photo. The first (the pink bucket photo below) was taken in our first market garden in 2010. (Funny how Roy’s face is missing from that photo!) As I mentioned last week, this is now our fifth year of doing this—unbelievable.

Libby Riley, potato harvest

IMG_7017I looked back at the spring potato planting photos from that year, and sure enough, Libby was helping Dad. Right from the start, potato planting was a father-daughter thing. (Though in the beginning, Libby certainly wasn’t wielding the knife as she did this time to cut the potato seed up.)

Maybe this is because Roy wants to pass along a little Irish heritage to Libby. Or maybe it’s because potatoes are Roy and Libby’s favorite vegetable. But more likely it is because the big potatoes are an easy thing for kids to plant.

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Whatever the reason, this year the potato thing is out of control. Due to an ordering snafu, we are going to wind up with double the amount of potato seed we were supposed to have (which was much more than last year in the first place!). This small field (below) that Roy and Libby planted over the weekend ate up just a fraction of that seed. And Roy has already planted 300 more feet of potatoes out in the new big field. Not sure where the rest is going to go, but if you’re a farm stand customer, stand by for Red Golds, Red Thumb Fingerlings, French Fingerlings, and German Butterballs. Lots of ‘em!


Even though it was a grey and chilly weekend, we stubbornly followed up our farm work on Sunday with a trip to get ice cream and a walk on the beach. Libby is a good sport about both photos and farm work (she also helped me plant more seeds in the hoop house), but we always want to do something fun (off-farm fun) when she’s with us, too.


When we got to the beach, she immediately took her shoes off and started running about, teasing the surf, scooping up rock finds, doing a full-body sand-plant, chasing Farmer. I took pictures, of course. Later at home, looking at one of these (right) and at some photos I took of her the very first day I met her in 2009 (left), I realized that though she may be turning into a lovely young lady, she’s still a beach girl, through and through. Lots of traditions are worth keeping—even that one where the mom takes too many photos.