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Slow Food Cycle Sunday: not just another pretty ride

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The Poetics of potatoes

If you think all there is to potatoes is red, Russets and maybe a Yukon gold or two thrown in for variety, check out this list. These 29 varieties of potatoes are all grown in Pemberton Valley. If you don't get to try them all, consider celebrating the hidden diversity of our food supply by writing a poem using every name:

Yukon Gold

Redsen

Sifra

Gemstar Russet

Russet Burbank

Ulla

Bintje

Sieglinde

French Fingerling

La Ratte

Desiree

All Red

Irish Cobbler

Ranger Russet

Russian Blue

Cal White

Pontiac

Warba

White Rose

Chieftan

Banana Fingerling

Kennebec

Russet Norkotah

La Soda

Atlantic

Cascade

Pike

Norchip

Shepody

A POTATO NATION HISTORY

From the early 1900s to the 1930s, farms in Pemberton Valley were diverse: bees and dairy cows were raised along with the mainstay crops of potatoes, turnips and hay. In 1922, the Department of Agriculture attended the Fall Fair at Meadows School near the Ronayne farm and convinced several farmers to pursue seed potato production and certification. The seed had to be grown for two years under the department's supervision, then it could be certified and sold commercially. Pemberton Valley's isolation and the high surrounding mountains that made it difficult "for the bugs to climb in" made it ideal for seed potato production. Farmer Jack Ronayne soon switched from dairy to seed potatoes; W.C. Green, Anna Helmer's great-grandfather on her father Doug's side, followed suit with Netted Gems. By 1938, Pemberton farmers were noted for award-winning products such as potatoes, turnips and field peas. In the 1930s, about three dozen farmers were active in the valley. By the 1950s about 25 farmers worked 700-800 acres. Today, nine farmers do the same.

— From Pemberton History & research by Niki Madigan, curator, Pemberton Museum