Most people think of "Pick Your Own" farms to be for pumpkins, apples or berries, but one farm in West Burke has a different take on it.The J and F farm stand in West Burke has been doing pick your own potatoes, or spuds as the farmers lovingly refer them, for about 40 years.
Jim Choiniere, one of the farmers at J and F, says he got the idea over 40 years ago from a farmer in Maine, and loved it so much he started his own PYOP tradition.
According to Jim, this season has been a record producer of produce, due to the summer's intense heat and a lot of rain. This mix of heat and water grew some pretty large and unique spuds, and Jim couldn't be happier with the turn out.
He says that the farm sees many repeat customers, some who have been coming for 30 years. Customers like Raymond LeBlanc, an old family friend, who has been coming to support the farm as long as he can remember. Raymond told us that he picks 2-3 bags every time he comes by the farm, simply because its quality food grown by quality people.
According to both Raymond and Jim, the price and taste of the potatoes picked at the stand can't be beaten by store potatoes; something to do with that New England dirt, Jim says.
And Justin Choiniere, one of the farm hands, agrees. He says that people find a special connection with their food, one that our society has for the most part lost when shopping at the big chain stores. Justin says that he's also excited about this years turnout because of the number of young people who are coming by. Due to a larger online presence, the farm stand has seen an increase of people, not only tourists, but local kids and college students who have a newfound interest in organic and locally grown food.
All three men agree that this trend is one they intend to support end nurture, and hope that the turnout for next season is just as hearty.