Joy and Lester Price farm potatoes and they do it well! Spud farming has been a long part of their family history with parts of their large 500 acre property in Crookwell, NSW belonging to Lester’s grandparents.
Joy and Lester started growing their own potatoes almost 40 years ago, and have been certified organic for 25 years. However, even before certification their approach to farming had always been low on synthetic chemical use, selling their produce as spray and chemical free after they noticed the effects the chemicals they did use were having on their children’s health. Joy and Lester hadn’t heard of organics until a friend mentioned they should become certified. After some research they decided to go for it, but with the attitude that if they were going do it, it was all in! So they did, picking National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA) for certification, which back then was one of the most difficult certifications to obtain. At the time they were the first potato growers to be certified and although now they are not the only ones they have grown to be the largest. Over the past 25 years their attitude and passion from farming has not diminished, always growing by the philosophy that fresh organic produce should be affordable for everyone. That is why they set and fix their price for their potatoes at the beginning of each season, with the prices for the 11 varieties that they grow all being the same...oh yeah even kipflers which your typical supermarket and specialty grocers would charge much more for. Originally only growing 2 types of potato, a red and white, they diversified their produce as they recognised the demand there was for variety. Planting of the crop starts around October and goes till Christmas, with staggered planting of the different varieties as the time they take to grow over summer varies. Goats and sheep are used as natural weed control and Dynamic Lifter as organic fertiliser. To control insects the crop is planted deeper in the ground than what is typical, making it harder for bugs and moths to get down and infest the plants. However, this makes the spuds harder to dig. The weather is also a big challenge, and the Price’s say they are always fighting with the elements. Drought stunts growth, high temperatures dry the ground out while high rainfall turns the ground to mud both making it impossible to dig. The spuds are harvested from April to October, but remain in the ground until they are to be sold. For Joy and Lester fresh is best, and each week they will only dig the amount of potatoes they need to fill their orders. This means that when customers buy their produce, it has only been out of the ground for a few days at the most. You couldn’t get it much fresher unless you grew it yourself.