Tuesday, February 26, 2008


It’s official. Denman Island’s fledgling potato co-op has found a suitable home, and site preparation is already underway. With thanks to all the kind islanders who offered up land for consideration, SPUDS founding members are pleased to announce our arrangement with the Hermitage on Denman Road which has graciously granted us the space to get planting!

Working together as a community to feed ourselves sustainably is a very worthwhile project. It’s alarming to consider that non-organic potatoes have lost up to 100% of their Vitamin C, and that this staple food crop not un-suited for Vancouver Island’s regional climate is generally shipped in from thousands of miles away! [Guy Dauncey, EcoNews, 2006]

Now is the time to join up as a SPUDS member if you haven’t already, and/or volunteer to help with the necessary infrastructure that will take a little time to put in place to get the whole thing up and running this spring. Our intention is to grow enough potatoes collectively to meet the needs of our membership throughout the year, storing them onsite in an accessible community root cellar.

You may remember reading in an earlier issue of the Flagstone that our co-op plans are following in the footsteps of the very successful long-term potato co-op at Linnaea Farm on Cortes Island. How it works there is that each individual or family membership requires approximately four or five commitments during the growing season to show up for planting, weeding and harvesting workbees that are fun, social gatherings. Much like the Garden Party Series Denman Islanders have participated in over the last several years that show and share support for our local commercial organic produce growers, the goal is to accomplish something truly rewarding with a minimum amount of time and a maximum amount of community spirit!

We could use a little extra assistance right now, though, with site prep, and fencing, etc. Anyone with the ability to help out on this front is encouraged to get in touch. With thanks to Freedonia for their generous grant, we have the budget to purchase necessary supplies, so all we really need is the people power! Watch the Grapevine for announcements about upcoming work-bees, and the inaugural planting of our first crop.

Appropriately, the United Nations has declared 2008 the International Year of Potato. So although the dream of this particular local organic food security initiative on Denman has been discussed for a long time, apparently we’re right on schedule! Even if you already grow potatoes, you might like to consider making that space in your garden available for other veggies, and choose to participate in SPUDS' community building project.

The humble potato, the largest source of food in the world behind rice, wheat and maize, is even considered one of the safest foods available. According to British researchers, "Whereas some food intolerances appear to be caused by too much of the same food, on a too regular basis, it seems that the potato is the exception to the rule. The reason potato is so low on the list is because it is a protein that is easy to digest. It breaks down easily in the digestive system, so causes least reaction and problems.” [York Press, York, UK, 2008]

Packed full of nutrients, this versatile food that stores so well and is easy to prepare in an amazing variety of ways is being celebrated around the world this year, so stay tuned for local fanfare as we make progress together at the SPUDS Hermitage site!