Round these parts: Potato farming

We live in potato country down here. The soil is rich, there’s usually a pretty good rainfall, cool nights and sunny long days make for good potato growing conditions. I’ve seen the rolling fields of potatoes and seen trucks driving by – filled to the BRIM with potatoes that sometimes roll off the top when a corner is taken too quickly. I had a chance thanks to my friend Mrs Munro (her talents have no limits) to spend a little time this morning at a farm down the road on the back of a harvester sorting the potatoes and seeing how it all works. To these local farmers it might seem a little weird that some bird would want to come and take photos of such a thing, but to me, this stuff is FASCINATING. This is where the food we buy from the supermarket or farmers markets come from. From hard-working families who have done it for as long as they can remember, from 3 generations all working together, doing this day in, day out 7 days a week, all year round. Getting dirty. Being at the mercy of the weather. Working bloody hard. All to provide something to people like you and me to feed our families throughout this country.

The humble potato.

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We jumped in the back of the Hill family harvester which is attached to the back of a tractor. The potatoes had been planted 100 days ago, so it was time for them to be dug up. They start out as long raised rows of rich , brown soil, that then sprout, grow and eventually flower. The Atlantic potato was the crop of the day – a chip potato – no good for anything other than chips as they tend to dissolve if you boil them up.

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I was on the back with Mrs M, Barb (who has been doing this forever) and her grandson Ryan. John was driving the tractor and it was out job to sort out the potatoes as they came up from the conveyor belt – making sure that we got any rocks, lumps of dirt, roots and plant tops as well as any green (rotten potatoes). We also had to check the large ones – they can be hollow. It was fast work, but good fun as you went up a row and then backed down to start another section of the crop. We chatted and sorted, speaking to Barb about how she used to dig them up by hand. Sorting. Chatting.

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We timed our visit well – just a few rows done before it was time for morning tea. Some tea and some cake and a natter.

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We headed back after that – children to see to and the day to begin. I know I often say I’m busy, I work hard, or I’m tired, man do these people work hard. Whether it’s potatoes, cotton, cattle, pigs, dairy, farmers work so bloody hard, doing what they do – all they have ever known to do – to bring us food, or resources that I know we take for granted on any given day. It was a real privilege to have an insight into our local industry and I will know a little bit more when I see those trucks drive through the village.


Ever seen potatoes growing?
Is it just me, or do you have a hankering for some hot chips now?


  1. Bree Di Mattina says

    Yes now I need chips damn you! Love your pics of potato rows. I love love love photos of things in a row. Trees in Paris, vineyards in Victoria. We have heaps and heaps of pictures of stuff in rows – it’s a family joke. Or I am ….

  2. Anita Riley says

    yes have seen some growing down your way…lovely rich soil. My son and I were having a conversation the other day about how many potatoes must need to be grown world wide to supply the world…imagine how many french fries alone are consumed world wide, let alone all other forms of potatoes we consume in restaurants and buy from the supermarkets – mindblowing!

  3. Emma Steendam says

    Yup. That’s spud growing.

    My family farm about 1000 acres of potatoes in Gippsland, my grandfather did, my father does, it’s what we do. Our spuds are for fresh market though, those ones you will buy in the supermarket (mainly Golden Delights, a Woolworths branded variety, grown but also other varieties sent to fresh markets in Sydney/Brisbane/Melbourne). When I was a wee one we had pickers, starting very early in the morning, waking up to the doof-doof-doof of spuds hitting the bottom of a pickers bucket and irrigator water on the roof are the sounds of my childhood. I miss the pickers, as it meant our tiny town would swell to ten times the size in spud season, which has just begun this week back home.

    Thanks for showing this Beth, it’s bloody hard work, this farming game. We’ll make a farmer out of you yet though 😉

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      I kept thinking of you this morning…I’m not sure I will be a farmer but I sure like spending time with them!

    • The first photo of the rows of potato plants reminded me instantly of a wedding photo of yours I saw a long time ago on a wedding site. Not just delicious potatoes but scenic too!

      • BabyMacBlogBeth says

        So pretty…all in a row AND flowering!

      • Emma Steendam says

        Haha yes we *may* have timed our wedding around when the spuds would be looking their finest 😉 I originally wanted to actually have the marquee in the middle of the flowering spuds, but access through a potentially muddy paddock was just going to do my head in so a sheep paddock sufficed!

  4. Alli @ ducks on the dam says

    Great pics. We have a few foodie producers close by – wine, capers, olives, apples, garlic, tomatoes and berries. Love a paddock full of food

  5. SameliasMum says

    As a child, we’d jump into dad’s fluoro green Torana and make our way up the pass to buy seed potatoes up there.

    It was a torturous, queasy trip, but after the potatoes were purchased, we’d stop at the pie shop before returning home. Great memories.

  6. Reannon Hope says

    We tried to grow potatoes this year- failed dismally! So cudos to all the potato growers!
    And where can i get me a Mrs Munro? Like you said- her talents know no bounds!

  7. Little Munch says

    My parents use to grow spuds on their farm and we would bring our townie school and uni friends home to help dig them up (no machines), they would be lucky to last a day! It’s back breaking work for sure.

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      Ha! My friends from School all used to be boarders and I loved to go and spend my holidays at their farms – cotton, cattle, lucerne…so interesting!

  8. Yes!!!
    I need hot chips … with chicken salt … and I need them STAT!!!

  9. Hi Beth, fascinating things aren’t they! I grow a little patch in my vegetable garden each year and digging them up is always exciting. This is such an interesting post and you have captured the essence of farming beautifully. Now I do really feel like hot chips!

  10. shoppegirls says

    Oh yes hot chips sound yummy right now. I love potatoes…. my favourite vegetable. How lucky were you to be apart of something so humble. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Lisa Mckenzie says

    This is so interesting and I totally agree with you farmers have it hard,we could not even imagine what it would be like!
    You have me watching that River cottage program on foxtel it is so interesting I didn’t think I would like it but it was on last Friday and I kept coming back to watch it!Hot chips Yes Please x

    • BabyMacBlogBeth says

      River Cottage is fabulous – a great insight for people on food/growing. I also love the Gourmet Farmer on SBS for this reason.

  12. Chrisy Clay says

    Good on you Beth for taking an interest in your local agriculture. I love farming and farmers. Spent 10 years working in agricultural extension, and loved every moment. Sure they may have thought it a little odd for you to come out and take photographs, but I can tell you they would have been secretly very happy that you were that interested. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  13. fauxfuschia says

    what a lovely post x

  14. MotherDownUnder says

    This reminds me so much of where my parents live now…potato country…not Idaho but Maine…better spuds than Idaho!
    I love going to farmer’s markets and talking to the farmers…such a better experience than buying from Woolies.

  15. Totally want chips. And it’s the morning time… does that matter?

  16. ahoy.jenni says

    Cool post! I learnt something! What beautiful soil, not like the hard dry earth I try to garden in!
    I love farming people too. Notice how they move slower. Much healthier way to be than rushing around like a blow fly. I have a few clients who are farmers and I just love ’em.

  17. the quiet life says

    I am a beef producer, but I also find all facets of other agriculture fascinating! Its amazing isn’t it, what goes into bringing that humble spud to the table!!

    • Emma Steendam says

      …when are you coming to visit the good country and I’ll show you some spuds a’growing Sharon? 😉 Maybe when you get some rain up there…

  18. Exfarmersdaughter says

    These pics make make me homesick as I grew up on a potato farm so close to this farm. Even went to school with John your tractor driver!! However potato farming is way too hard a life. I moved to the city and married a city boy, returning to the farm to visit the family and calm my soul.
    Oh and yes! Hot chips are my very very most favourite food!

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