Blue Hill Heritage Trust employees Chrissy Allen and Beth Dickens and volunteers Liliana Muise and Hayley King create a new potato garden on the trust’s Salt Pond property in Sedgwick. The potatoes will be distributed by the Magic Food Bus and the Tree of Life Food Pantry on the Blue Hill Peninsula. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISSY ALLEN

Potato project to help fight hunger on Blue Hill Peninsula



BLUE HILL — Thanks to a surplus of seed potatoes in Aroostook County, a thoughtful Deer Isle gardener, Quill’s End Farm in Penobscot, Blue Hill Heritage Trust and a host of other groups, potatoes should be plentiful this upcoming fall for local food pantries.

“The seed potatoes are free to anyone wanting to help and can pledge to donate the produce,” said Chrissy Allen, development director for the Blue Hill Heritage Trust. All potatoes will go to organizations fighting hunger on the peninsula.

Healthy Peninsula and Heather and Phil Retberg at Quill’s End Farm in Penobscot are helping to distribute the seed potatoes to anyone who can “grow a row” for the organizations, Allen said.

As with many good things, the potato-growing endeavor happened serendipitously.

Deer Isle gardener Deb Suran said she and a friend learned that the feed store would not be selling seed potatoes by the 50-pound bag this year. But, they could order directly from the store’s supplier.

“For $800, we could get one pallet of 2,400 pounds of seed potatoes delivered,” Suran said.

Quill’s End Farm agreed to take delivery and “find homes for the excess bags my friends and I couldn’t use in our farms and gardens,” Suran said.

Heather Retberg, who owns Quill’s End with her husband, Phil, said Suran is a very “generous-hearted soul. “Rather than just be satisfied with the amount of potatoes she needed for her own planting (she always plants extra to share with friends and the Deer Isle food pantry), she wanted to make sure she could also get the rest of us home gardeners/friends of hers seed this spring,” Retberg said. “There was no quantity between 400 pounds and 2,400 pounds available to purchase, so she quickly consulted with my husband, Phil. He assured her we could help with the distribution end of things and move a ton of potatoes and so she ordered a pallet.”

Allen said, “From BHHT’s end, we are pleased to be able to use a piece of our conserved land to help feed our community at this time of need. The potatoes we grow at this property, along with the food we produce at our office gardens, will go to the peninsula organizations helping to get food in the hands of community members who need it (Tree of Life Food Pantry, Healthy Peninsula, Simmering Pot).”

Contact Quill’s End Farm if you’d like to grow a row of seed potatoes to donate this fall.

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.

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