Area farmer donates a ton of spuds to local food banks
Local farmer Tim Wade said he had a great season this year when it came to his potato crop, and so far he's donated 2,100 pounds of his surplus potatoes to area food pantries.
“We had a lot of potatoes this year, we really did. I mean a bumper crop of them. Just a good season. Rain hit at just the right time. Potatoes can stand some dry weather, but they gotta have rain when they're bloomin'. So a lot of these are the leftovers,” Wade said pointing to the bins. “When the weather does get cold it's gonna freeze them. I'd much rather see someone get some good out of them than see them freeze.”
Wade said he attributes the heavy harvest to working in new ground this year. He's been farming for more than 40 years and he said he's been lucky “because farming is no sure thing,” but he enjoys it. Wade also maintains 35 head of cattle at his hundred-acre farm, grows sweet corn and some other produce crops for the Farmers Market. He said most of his customers just stop by the farm for their fresh produce, and usually come back year after year.
Wade said he planted in the middle of May and didn't harvest until October this year. He grows three varieties of potatoes — red-skinned Chieftains, yellow-fleshed Yukon Golds, and Kennebecs — a large white potato. He said he buys certified seed every year from a company in Maine because he finds that he gets a better yield with the certified seed.
When it comes to harvesting, he'll recruit some help to operate his potato harvester.
“We hook this on a tractor and it all works hydraulically,” Wade said. “This thing is probably 30 or 40 years old, I bought it used in Ohio, and it works really good for what I'm doing. It'll do two rows at a time and it takes a crew of five or six to run this thing. I have some guys that help, they've helped for years and years.”
Jay Miller, of Hillsboro, helped contact area food banks and church organizations to come by Wade's and separate the large wooden bins full of potatoes. Sacks were donated by Southern States in Marlinton for the project.
The potatoes were delivered to, and will be distributed by, the Pocahontas Co-op Parish in Marlinton, the Durbin Food Pantry, as well as North Central Community Action.
“Tim has allowed his potato fields to be gleaned, after mechanical harvesting, for the third year now. Tim's donating the potatoes, we're donating the labor and transportation,” explained Miller. “A lot of people are going to get a lot of potatoes.”
Miller is a volunteer, he isn't affiliated with any of the food pantries or churches, but his wife, Sue Groves, has been working with area food banks for a few years now.
“I dropped off about 200 pounds the other day to the Methodist church,” he said. “At North Central — they give a lot of food away, I dropped off another four or five hundred pounds. I said, 'can you move more? All I've got left are these 25 pound bags', and she said 'bring 'em.' So I'm here to help get as many as I can out of this bin so that Monday we can re-supply them.”
Miller said other local farmers have been helping out, as well.
“In addition to Tim, Eugene Simmons planted eight rows of sweet corn— each about 200 feet long — in his field this year and allowed Plant-a-Row to glean it after he finished taking what he and his family and friends needed,” Miller said. “That resulted in a lot of corn being donated to the pantries during the summer.”