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Buds with spuds: Why Newfoundland is banking on potatoes for food production

At a ceremony this week that celebrated small farmers taking big leaps, the Newfoundland and Labrador government has put the potato as front and centre to its approaching deadline to double food production in the province by 2022. On Wednesday, the humble starch became the centrepiece of that plan on a tract of newly-cleared soil at Junction Brook, just east of Deer Lake. 

There, three farming operations were allotted 700 acres between them as the successful bidders for Crown land leases specifically designated for large-scale potato production. “We’re pretty excited to have this opportunity. It’s pretty impressive what the province has done here to take this agricultural land and make it available,” said Lukas Doman, who along with partner Adam Anderson will be farming 172 acres,100 of which has been cleared.

The province is looking for a big boost as well, and is touting the taters-to-be as its way to meet an agricultural goal it first announced in 2017: to double the amount of food produced in Newfoundland and Labrador from 10 to 20 per cent of the province’s needs by 2022.

One veteran potato farmer welcomes Wednesday’s potato boost, but questions whether the new land can get up to speed by the province’s self-imposed deadline next year. “It’s not just a matter of clearing land and here you go, it’s good to grow. I mean, it takes years to build up that soil to get its full potential,” said Melvin Rideout, a fourth-generation farmer in Cormack and the president of the province’s Horticulture Producers Council.

Source: CBC. Read the full story here
Photo: About 172 acres of the land earmarked by the N.L. government will be farmed by a partnership between two families: (from left) Natalie and Adam Anderson, and Lukas and Janelle Doman. (Colleen Connors/CBC)

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