It's Ontario Agriculture Week here in Ontario, Canada, and to celebrate I thought I'd share my experience at Downey Potato Farms.
I visited Downey Farms for the first time last week, along with fellow food-blogger Lisa Le. This was my first time seeing commercial farming first hand, and it was actually very educational.
When I buy a bag of potatoes from the grocery, I never think about where they came from. It turns out that it takes a lot of time, equipment and manpower to grow enough food to meet our needs. One man who is working particularly hard to get delicious potatoes on our table is Trevor Downey.
Trevor is a fourth generation potato farmer from Ontario, and a hard-working father of three. He is also the President of Downey Farms, Ontario's premiere local potato growing, packing and distribution company. Trevor took time out of his busy day to show Lisa and I the journey that potatoes take from the field to your fork.
I'm not sure why I was surprised to see so many rows of potatoes in the field... I guess I never really thought about it before. There were rows and rows of potatoes waiting to be taken away.
Trevor kneeled down and dug out few potatoes with his hands. He was so excited to show us what they look like, and tell us about how they grow.
It's sort of amazing to see those golden nuggets just hiding in the dirt. If you didn't disturb the ground, you wouldn't even know all of those were down there. My mom grew potatoes for the first time this year, and it was so satisfying to dig them up last month. We're definitely going to try that again.
I was really impressed by Trevor's passion for his work. He couldn't stop talking about the potatoes, his staff and his plans to expand their line of potatoes. His enthusiasm was contagious, and I started to understand why farming is so important.
When we arrived at the processing and storage facility, I was shocked to see how many potatoes were there. The photo below shows one of the temperature-controlled storage rooms. This room alone can hold over 5 million pounds of potatoes. 5 MILLION POUNDS!!
I'd never seen so many potatoes in one place in my life. These potatoes will stay here until May, as older potatoes are packaged and shipped to restaurants and stores. I asked Trevor how they are able to stay in good shape for so long, and he explained that it has to do with the temperature and the ventilation in the room. There are fans that circulate the air, and the potatoes become dormant until it's time for them to come out.
Eventually, the potatoes will be moved out of storage. Then they are washed, sorted and packaged before being shipped to restaurants and groceries. Trevor's GMO-free potatoes are sold under the Bistro Fresh label, and you can read more about the brand here.
If you're looking for information on how to select, store and cook potatoes, you'll want to check out this handy guide by Produce Made Simple.
Now, I could continue to ramble on about potatoes, but I thought you might enjoy watching something instead. Check out this super short video:
This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
I attended a media tour of Downey Farms, which is how I was able to take these photos.
Trevor How come ie can’t buy a bag of large potatoes in grocery stores? Alls we can find are potatoes my mom used to use in soup small and smaller.
Hi David, Trevor can't see your comment (I wrote the article on my blog about his farm). You can try contacting him at [email protected]. That being said, I'm pretty sure I've bought big bags of Downey potatoes recently... I think they were at Metro or Costco... I can't remember exactly, sorry!
This looked like it was super fun 🙂
It was pretty cool!
Angie @ FridayCakeNight
What an awesome day! 5 million pounds!! 🙂
It was pretty cool!
This is such an interesting and timely post, Shareba. We really need to know where out food comes from. I love the pictures, and I gasped at how many potatoes were in that barn 🙂
Thanks Michelle! I couldn't believe how many were in there!