Potatoes at Company Farm

Despite the weather-related challenges, our potatoes are growing.

After the first five weeks of our pilot year of Company Farm, I’ve learned that farming is not for the fainthearted. Nor is it for people who tend to worry. When you start a farm (or a backyard garden), you surrender certain controls and take what nature dishes out.

We started Company Farm with the goal of growing potatoes for the food shelf. If all goes well, our “Farm Team” of volunteers hopes to harvest 500 pounds of spuds. And so far, we’re doing OK. But there’s been a lot of fretting.

See, the farm is located in 30 4 x 6′ raised beds on a slope just off our parking lot. In a normal year, the slope remains on the wet side. This year, those beds have been getting drenched regularly — sometimes three times a week. It really shows the benefit of a raised bed because the walkways between the beds are soggy — sometimes with an inch of standing water during the heaviest rains. In the beds, the soil is relatively dry.


You can really see one of the benefits of a raised bed here. The area around the bed is flooded, but the soil in the bed is relatively dry.

And those potato plants are growing! After a month, we’re hilling up the most vigorous plants. When the first weeds came up, the Farm Team swept in and cleaned all of the beds in just an hour.

For some reason, sprouting has been irregular. Some plants are 12″ tall, but others have only just emerged from the soil. And others have not sprouted at all. I’m not sure why. We planted the same varieties of potatoes in another area of our campus and they’re seeing irregular sprouting in those beds, too. I’ve heard the same from other gardeners. Must be the weather: cool and very wet.

Farming is unpredictable, mysterious and disappointing. But it’s also amazing. Whether you’re a farmer or a backyard gardener, you know that despite everything nature dishes out, plants usually grow. Go, potatoes; grow!