From the northern part of the state to the southern region, two Wisconsin potato growers are feeding people in the Badger State and the Midwest by collaborating with the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA) and Feeding America on a potato donation to various food banks.
What began as seed potatoes produced for a USDA-funded research grant in Wisconsin's northwoods region of Eagle River, turned into an 1800 cwt (hundredweight) potato donation, an amount that fills four semis.
Ron Krueger is the farm manager of Eagle River Seed Farm LLC, and grew the seed now being donated. He says with this grant being scaled back to smaller trials going forward, giving these potatoes to people who need and will appreciate them was an obvious choice.
'I feel good!' Krueger says of the loads as they headed from his facility to be washed and packaged at another location. 'I see what's going on in the world, and really appreciate being able to do something that benefits people and our local communities.'
Once leaving Eagle River, the semis headed south to Gumz Muck Farms in Endeavor, WI where the potatoes were washed, packed and shipped to their final destination at select Feeding America foodbanks the first three weeks in April.
It was Feeding America's Regional Fresh Produce Sourcer Molly Jakubek who worked with WPVGA and the growers to bridge the gap to the food banks and ultimately, people's plates.
Rod Gumz, owner of Gumz Muck Farms, says when Jakubek reached out to him, agreeing to help out was easy. 'A lot of time and effort is put into producing a crop,' says Gumz. 'We love helping people who need it and seeing them benefit from the efforts of a donation.'
Gumz Muck Farms packaged the potatoes into 5lb. bags and shipped them to food banks in Milwaukee and Appleton, WI; Omaha, NE; Maryville, TN and Waterloo, IA.
'We are thankful for what we have, what we're doing and for the ability to produce food that doesn't go to waste,' Gumz adds.
A field to fork story at its finest, this donation is not only feeding families, but is also spreading word of Wisconsin's Buy Local message and the health benefits potatoes naturally provide.