• Lizzie Shutt

A Taste of Farm Life

This past week Emmett and I got the chance to experience what running a major farming operation entails. Our parents connected us to Alan Jones, the owner of Jones Potato Farm, and he was happy to welcome us for the week!

We stayed on one of the farm properties called "The Ranch" because it had a ranch house and some animals too. The farm manager for that site, Richard, stayed with us as well. He was a great addition to our dynamic because of his funny comments "you two are like peas and carrots" and the many stories from way back when.

Early to rise and early to rest. Farmer's work with the environment so when all the plants and animals are waking up, you best be ready to start your day! We arrived at the farm around 8 am and would leave around 5pm, except for a few field trip days. After a hard day's work 9:30 pm bedtime sounded good to me!

Every day is different and comes with unexpected surprises. Due to the timing between seasons there wasn't much field work, rather we helped prepare the packing house machinery and I spent time helping Leslie Jones with the financial duties.

Conventional farming gets a bad reputation, but this family farm proves that sustainable practices and beautiful yields can go hand in hand. One day while driving around with Alan we were talking about the public misconceptions around farming and chemical runoff. He explained farmers have an incentive to use the least amount of pesticides and fertilizer because that all adds up to dollars and cents, in addition humans all produce wastewater that is ultimately released into the surrounding bodies of water (I plan to touch on this subject more in future blog post).

Jones Potato farm has won numerous awards for their Best Management Practices.

  • Using multiple nutrient sources in blends

  • Fine-tuning fertilization rates to reduce leaching and provide adequate nutrients dependent on the stage of crop development

  • Precision applications meaning that dry fertilizers are applied right near rows and liquid applications occur below the surface

  • Cover crops are planted after every harvest to build organic matter and reduce erosion

  • Analyze soil data from all fields to determine nutrient trends

All the hard work and care poured into this operation truly shows from the friendly workers, tasty produce, and financial success achieved! Jones Potato Farm was recognized as The American Vegetable Grower Magazine's Grower of The Year in 2017 in addition to receiving Sustainable Business Award from the Sustany Foundation & University of Tampa.

There's much more I could write about but here are a few takeaways:

  • "Throughput" is a word... basically it means Get'er Done! This is critical character trait for farm manager.

  • A lot of food is wasted along the production and supply chain so think twice before throwing your leftovers in the trash! Try composting food waste, buying only what you need, and serving a smaller portion to allow yourself to get more if needed!

  • Organization from the start, especially with financials, makes everything easier.

  • Working with your spouse builds understanding and sparks new conversation :)

  • Red tractor paint doesn't come off easy! (see below hahaha)

I hope you enjoyed this Farm Work Week Recap!

"Live Dirty, Eat Clean & Green",

Lizzie Shutt


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