Ark Trunk and Grow Out
The Ark of Taste is a list of endangered foods and food traditions that are selected by Slow Food around the world to be documented, preserved, and defended. To bring these foods to life, we have created an Ark Trunk, a traveling exhibit of products selected to the USA’s Ark of Taste. And, our annual “grow out” of 30 Ark vegetable varieties best suited for our county’s growing conditions distributes seeds to local growers who volunteer to promote their use and their history in our local food communities.
Ark of Taste Leader: Elissa Rubin-Mahon
Grow Out Leader: Lisa Hunter
Bodega Red Potato
KRCB North Bay Report: Local Potato Variety Stages Comeback from near Extinction-Interview with Elissa Rubin-Mahon & Emmett Hopkins. Bodega Red Potato Interview
In the 1840s this Chilean potato jumped ship on the Sonoma County coast and found a home in the fields farmed around Bodega and Tomales Bay. The prosperous crop provided sustenance for Gold Rush miners, inspired squatter wars and made the farming area the potato capital of California. Luther Burbank used the potato as parent material. Named the Bodega Red, the potato became functionally extinct from neglect. Rediscovered in the early 2000’s by Slow Food Sonoma County North, the Bodega Red is the focus of a recovery project to introduce this heirloom potato to the North Bay food culture: farmers, chefs, gardeners and consumers. In 2015, our chapter sold 1600 pounds of seed potatoes to farms and gardens. The sale of seed potatoes will be an annual event.
Bodega Red Leader: Zurial Bernier
Notes from Nathan Boone’s Secrets of Potato Culture Workshop
- Plant seed potatoes in early spring, in soil that is more than 50°. Best to wait until after the last frost date, unless the soil temperature is above 50. Usually can’t plant by the coast until the end of May.
- Seed potatoes should be the size of an egg to plant, so you will cut each seed potato into pieces.
- Cut the stem end off; that’s where decay will occur.
- Cut off areas that are funky.
- Doesn’t matter how many eyes are in each piece.
- Dip all potato pieces in wood ashes or oyster-shell lime. Plant them right away.
- Alternatively, let the pieces dry out for 3 days before planting. They may turn green, which is good.
- Potatoes can be planted in rows or intensive checkerboard.
- There should be 30-36” between rows, and about 10-12” between potato pieces (the space between plants affects the size of the potatoes).
- Plant in moist soil, but not saturated. The seed pieces need air. Create rows of hills and trenches, and plant the pieces in the trenches.
- Once the potatoes are planted, don’t irrigate until the plant emerges.
- The most important time to irrigate is when the plants flower.
- Hill the soil around the plants as they get tall and wobbly, around 6-12”, up to their “necks” (so about 2” is showing).
- Any time after flowering, you can reach in and pull out a few tubers.
- Before full harvesting, tuber formation should have stopped.
Don’t store the potatoes until the skin is cured (hardened), about 2 weeks. Keep the soil on the potatoes when you store them.