Montana Growers Step Up to Combat Coronavirus

Published online: Apr 27, 2020 Articles, Seed Potatoes
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Source: Sidney Herald

Lake Seed Inc., an 85-year old farm in Ronan, Mont., is stepping up to help combat COVID-19. Lake Seed is owned by four brothers: David, Pat, Tim and Dan. They raise seed for corn, alfalfa and small grains, with seed potatoes being their “bread and butter.”

Third-generation farmer Dan Lake explained how he got involved in helping out the community.

“In light of all the coronavirus challenges going on, we heard there was a shortage of potatoes in stores, so thought it would be good to donate our oversized potatoes to the general public. Our seed potato customers need a medium size, so we cull the larger ones,” Lake explains. “We put those culled potatoes in large boxes, then ran a Facebook ad saying 'Free potatoes at Lake Seed. Bring a bag or box.'”

In the first four days, the Lakes gave away 9,000 pounds of spuds.

“We’ve had to slow that down because right now we had to move our shipping line equipment to the area where we had those free potatoes, so it’s too congested at the moment, but once we move the equipment, we’ll revive the potato giveaway,” says Lake.

The company grows approximately 150 million pounds of potatoes per year, which Lake says is considered a medium-size operation. Their customers are primarily farmers in Washington State; the potatoes they buy from Lake Seed will be cut and planted, with those newly grown tubers heading to one of the big potato processors to be made into French fries and other tasty potato treats.

“The fact we had a lot of culled potatoes to give away is no big deal,” Lake said. “It’s good to help people. Giving away these potatoes felt good, and we knew it’s really appreciated. During this pandemic, some people don’t want to go into a grocery store, so the fact they could come here where it’s outdoors and very peaceful was certainly a positive.”

Every autumn, Lake Seed donates the culls to food banks and churches.

“You always feel better when you can give something back,” said Lake. “That’s all of being part of a community.”