IssuesFall 2013Educating the Public about Potatoes

Educating the Public about Potatoes

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Open Farm Day is a concept that’s been gaining traction in recent years, with an increasing number of growers across the country opening their barn doors to the public for a day a two in August or September. The goal is to inform and educate people about the different types of farming operations and how they function.

In late August, farmers in Alberta and Saskatchewan took part in these events, and September saw farmers in the Maritimes, Quebec and Manitoba do the same.

This year’s Open Farm Day in Manitoba included a potato operation for the first time — Mid-Man Farms, located just outside of Carberry.

I had the pleasure of meeting the owners, Brock McIntosh and his family, as well touring Mid-Man as the farm prepared to host its first Open Farm Day in September.

We caught up with McIntosh and his crew as they were conducting their initial test dig of the season in preparation for the fall harvest — a video was being shot at the same time, which would later be shown to Open Farm Day visitors to illustrate exactly what goes on from harvest to storage.

A hot and sunny mid-September day made for an enjoyable visit. I was impressed by the teamwork exhibited by the Mid-Man crew, as rows of Russet Burbanks were wrested from the ground and sent through an intricate maze of machinery into the farm’s cavernous storage facilities. To coin a phrase… it was potato poetry in motion.

Equally impressive was the hospitality displayed by our hosts. The start of harvest is extremely busy for any farmer, so it was no small thing for this Manitoba grower to open up his farm and offer up several hours of valuable time. To do this again several days later, for the benefit of the public at Open Farm Day, says more about the generosity of the McIntosh clan.

McIntosh acknowledges that outreach efforts like Open Farm Day are important, in terms of getting people more involved in agriculture and enabling consumers to see first-hand where their food comes from.

Events like this couldn’t happen, without significant time and effort from organizers — like those at the Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives Program, who arranged Open Farm Day at Mid-Man as well as at dozens of other farms — and, of course, without the vital contribution of farmers like Brock McIntosh.

Pictures from our visit to Mid-Man Farms are on view on the Open Farm Day article of this issue of Spud Smart. You can read more about the McIntosh family farm in our Grower Spotlight feature.

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