b'Giving in Good Times and BadTwo potato producers in neighbouring provinces experienced very different years in 2021 but shared a similar desire to help others in need.BY: JIM TIMLICKIT WAS A TOUGH year for potato growers in some parts of the country in 2021. Nowhere was that more true than in Manitoba, where extreme heat, a severe lack of precipitation and the ensuing drought conditions resulted in well-below normal yields for many spud producers.Mark Peters can attest to that. Peters is a third-generation farmer and owner of Spruce Drive Farms in Portage la Prairie, Man., where he grows about 100 acres of seed potatoes each season. Peters says 2021 was one of the worst years on record for his operation and estimates his yield was down by 50 per cent compared to a typical year.Still, that didnt stop Peters and his family from carrying on what has become an annual tradition on their farm. Peters has been giving away potatoes to folks in Portage and other nearby communities since 2016 and this year was no exception. In October, Spruce Drives owners,Potatoes from Spruce Drive Farms ready to be given away. employees and a handful of volunteersPHOTO: SPRUCE DRIVE FARMSgave away an estimated 75,000 pounds of potatoes to anyone who wanted them. To me the reward is far greater (than theThats whats so cool about this. They Peters admits he and his family hadsacrifice). So, we made the commitmenthad these extra acres (of potatoes) already to think long and hard about whether tothat thats what we were going to do. given to them that they didnt know what continue with the giveaway this year, butPeters says the giveaway might wellthey were going to do with, and theyd ultimately decided it was too importanthave been scaled back had it not been forirrigated them and it ended up being just a to the community to halt it, eventhe help provided by members of the Pinebeautiful crop, Peters explains.temporarily. Creek Hutterite Colony, located aboutI ended up calling them a short time It did seem odd to give away potatoes60 kilometres west of Portage near thelater. They said, well harvest them on a year like this, but we committedcommunity of Firdale.this afternoon and well bring them three acres for this event, he says. AsColony members planted additional redout Saturday. It was such a cool thing, well, there were some other farms andpotatoes this past spring after receivingespecially since I wasnt even sure if I was businesses who stepped in to provideextra seed from a local seed grower andgoing to have enough for the giveaway.some of the input costs for those acres. they were looking to donate the tubersColony members were so happy to To me, theres a difference betweento those in need. They were connectedbe part of the event, Peters says, that being charitable and being generous.with Peters after a local Simplot Foodsthey plan to stay in touch with him and Being charitable is when you give out ofrepresentative heard him explaining theindicated an interest in being involved in your extra and you do it when it makeschallenges with this years giveaway in anfuture giveaways.sense. Being generous is when it doesntinterview with CBC Radio and shared theI think this might grow into something make sense and you just do it anyway.colonys situation with Peters. even bigger than it already is, he adds.16SPUDSMART.COM Winter 2022'