I had to yell as loud as I could over the noise, "No Chris!!! Save that one! Don't put it down the drop."
About fifteen seconds later I yelled again, "Keep that one too!"
Chris looks at me in disbelief, his non-verbal communication saying, "This one too? What can you possibly see in this one?"
Staring eye to eye, he knows I want the object he is holding and obliges by tossing a potato into my save bucket. I had plans for that potato.
Working on the potato farm, the main purpose we were hired for was to ride in the potato harvester and sort potatoes. This consisted of having hundreds of potatoes dug up from the earth, roll by on a conveyor belt in front of us and fall into a big container for good potatoes, which would then be trucked to Melbourne for distribution. Our job was to quickly grab out all the pieces of rock, soil, rotten potatoes and odd shaped potatoes from the belt. Anything that wasn't a standard, round shaped potato went down the drop box.
As we got better and faster at sorting potatoes I started to envision all the misshaped potatoes as little creatures. Each misshaped potato seemed to have its own personality and I started saving them in buckets. The buckets kept piling up in one of the sheds and Kain and Roger, owners of the farm, would have to say, "Um, Tiff, I need another bucket back for work." I would think, "Crap," as I dumped out yet another pile of preciously saved potatoes that were amassing in the corner of their shed.
Mind you, when the weather was good, the harvester could run for longer than twelve hours a day. When it was raining and no good for harvesting, it was no good for potato art. Eventually, before all my saved potatoes rotted away, I was able to at least explore this creation. Leanne, wife and another owner of the family farm, in addition to always making us hot tea after long days on the harvester, gourmet meals, slices, birthday cakes, hot showers, let me borrow all sorts of props for the potato art photo shoot.
So without further ado, I present to you potato art. In my mind, I have names, titles, images and stories for each of these pictures. I am leaving that out so your imagination can enjoy this potato art all on its own.
Any votes, names or stories for their favourite contestant?
Two short years ago we were about to start harvesting potatoes while simultaneously many of these farmers drove their tractors to the McCain corporation in protest for purchasing imported potatoes thereby cutting their local suppliers. At times I feel it can be overwhelming to shift through the bureaucratic regulations surrounding food no matter where you inhabit this planet. Please remember each of us has the ability to buy local wherever we may be – it truly does make a world of difference. For many of us the summer harvest season is just around the corner. Why not make this the year you start purchasing produce from a farm near you? Check out local harvest, find out where your farmers markets are and become a proud locavore. After all, producing real food is an art form.