by Gary Mount
When I was a boy growing up on my father’s farm on Route 1 in West Windsor, I was proud that we were “fruit growers”. I wouldn’t even think of us as “farmers”. (This distinction is prevalent throughout the fruit growing world today — at least in the minds of the fruit growers.)
My father had many friends who grew potatoes in the Cranbury-Plainsboro area, but they were “farmers”. Each year he would invite his friends to come over on Thanksgiving morning and hunt on our farm, which was 350 acres between Route 1 and the Delaware-Raritan Canal. After hunting, my mother would serve breakfast to all–maybe 15 to 20 men. It was exciting — my brother Lee and I would go along with bows and arrows that we had made from apple tree shoots called suckers. The pheasants and rabbits were quite safe from us, but we loved being allowed to go. And — the guests were farmers; we were fruit growers. (My brother and I did better with the breakfast than the hunting.)
Times have changed. I don’t hunt anymore, and I have become a farmer. I grow lots of fruit, but included in the 36 crops at Terhune Orchards are many types of vegetables, including potatoes. I have been growing them for about four years. One of the things that I like about them is the great variety of types: Large, small, extra small, round, and oblong; white, red, blue, rose, and yellow skin; and white, blue, yellow and purple flesh (the interior). Add many different tastes to all these, and you start to have an interesting crop.
I must say that I got a bit over-enthusiastic this year with all the types, and planted about 18 different ones. I also planted a lot of each — so much so that now that it is time to pick my beloved apples, many of my apple bins are filled with potatoes! I can’t believe it! So much for the fruit grower-farmer dichotomy. I am now encouraged by wife Pam to be less enthusiastic next year (“We don’t have room in the farm store for all those potatoes!”) But we are enjoying them for dinner — the different flavors, textures, and appearances are a great treat to the taste buds of this fruit grower/farmer. And, my first seed catalogs for next year’s planting are now arriving. There are some new types that I would like to try.