Arugula's Star Farm Writing & Photos...Week 4
Posted 1/29/2018 12:05am by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.
Dreaming of Potatoes and the First EEFFD
January for farmers always involves seeds. Inventories, Planning, Selection, Ordering & Eating. We go to bed and arise with just this one our minds. This year I agreed to take on the organization and placement of the local farmer group potato order. There has been a small group of farmers that have been ordering potatoes from the Maine Potato Lady now for the last 8 years. This group order was due mid week to insure that we TN potato planters get our potatoes in March. It is hard to find potato distributers that will ship out potatoes in March, and so this is why I love the Maine Potato Lady, not to mention the companies wonderful selection of organic heirloom varieties.
The most interesting fact to be learned by a potato order evolves around economics. I always order certified organic Potato Seed and therefore I do not grapple with the differences in cost, as I know for our farm it is a must, but by organizing the group order, the difference in the cost of conventional potato seed and organic potato seed easily spelled itself out on paper right infront of my eyes. A 50 lb Bag of Organic Adirondack Red Potato Seed cost $78.00 and a 50 lbs Bag of Conventional Adirondack Red Potato Seed cost $28.00. The organic is about 2.8 times more in cost per pound than its conventional counterpart. When one transcribes this into potato prices at the grocery, I think it would be found out that an organic potato does not sell for 2.8 times more than a conventional potato. Now of course, one cannot buy but the basic potatoes in the grocery, but even by sliding on over to the local farmer's market the going price for an unusual non grocery store available variety sells for around $2.00-2.50 per pound. This price is still not the appropriate mark up. Let's say a conventional potato sells for $1.00/lb then that would mean that a specialty organic potato should sell for at least $2.80.
Here at Arugula's Star we specialize in growing Organic Heirloom Fingerlings and the cost of a 50 lb Bag of Potato Seed of these blow all the other figures out of the water, with a whopping $117.00. This cost is 4.1 times more per lb than the specialty conventional potato. If you have always wondered why fingerling potatoes cost more then this is why. An organic fingerling potato could and should bring at least $4.00/lb, which for certain will make me rethink our selling price for the 2018 season.
The Heirloom Organic Fingerling Varieties that we ordered this year for Arugula's Star Farm were:
- Austrian Crescent
- Rose Finn Apple
- Russian Banana
- Red Thumb (not heirloom, but a beautiful little variety nonetheless!)
I was quite disappointed that one of my favorite Fingerling varieties called Magic Molly, a deep purple variety, was already out of stock.
Come late June these lovely specialty fingerlings should start finding their way into many Nashville area restaurants. You will be able to buy them by picking up On Farm, shopping at the Leipers Fork Farmer's Market, or by Front Door Delivery.
This 4th week of January seemed to be the most mild thus far for this year and the month of January. We started the week off with gentle rains and ended the week with gentle rains, with bright sunshine adorning us just in the nick of time on Sunday afternoon for the first of the 2018 Ecosystem Exploration Family Farm Days. Eastenn Dutch awoke the morning of saying with such excitement "It's time to get up...people are coming out today to the forest!" As we were putting out our farm banner and signs showing visitors the way, the fog lifted, the clouds cleared, and the sun shinned brilliantly. The clearing seemed like an instant, a moment, a puff of magic. As I presumed, our first one started out small with only a couple of families, but with time more will come. The afternoon could not have been better. We discovered chestnut oak acorns with root sprouts, sawed wood, built pretend forts, walked within the forest to a waterfall, and warmed wet feet by the fire. The next EEFFD will be on February Sunday the 18th from 1:30-4:30.
Until next time, stay warm, and enjoy the out of doors!
Allison Mills Neal
6624 Leipers Creek Road; Columbia, TN 38401