‘Dirt Nerd’ answers kids’ potato questions

‘Dirt Nerd’ answers kids’ potato questions

So many questions, so little time! That’s what happened when “Steve the Plant Scientist” joined third graders at Kent Elementary School in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada’s potato-growing capital.

Our director of agronomy and chief Dirt Nerd Steve Moorehead talked agriculture and Little Potatoes with the kids, looking at tuber and soil samples, answering queries and posing challenges. The kids were riveted and oh so curious. Steve proved a real hit. Confided student Zoe afterwards: “I knew you’d be a great Little Potato worker!”

To give you an idea of the Q&A scope, these are the questions posed by just one student, Luke:

Lukes-letter-to-Steve-the-Scientist

Even though Steve is at the height of potato planting season now, he took time out to answer some of the kids’ most pressing questions:

Have you always eaten potatoes since you got the job? (Luke)Dirt-nerd-3rd-grade-classroom-visit

Yes, for sure. Though I travel all over the U.S. and Canada for The Little Potato Company, I live on Prince Edward Island, where potatoes have been a way of life since the 1700s. In fact, tiny P.E.I. boasts 330 potato farmers and grows 100-plus varieties. So cultivating, studying and eating potatoes has always been big for me. But through my job, I’ve gotten to know and love Creamers, which are much tastier and more nutritious than the average potato.

Is it hard to keep pests away? (Luke)

Yes. That’s always a challenge for any farmer. What we do is focus on healthy soil. We add nutrients, monitor carefully and use water efficiently—because healthy plants are better at fending off bugs and diseases. We manage pests through integrated methods; for example, crop rotation, and isolating and treating affected areas.

Do you ever work with the harvesters? (Alex)

Yes, I spend a lot of my time in the fields working with our farmers. Our growers are super important to us. My team and I are constantly looking at the quality and the growing process in order to produce the very best Little Potatoes around.

Why is soil a different kind everywhere you go? (Golnar)steve-the-scientist-pei

Good question. Different geography and climates create dramatically different types of soil. In western Canada, for instance, the soils are black; in P.E.I., they’re red. Textures can be quite distinct, too. Some have a lot of clay, which requires special handling, and some have more sandy soil. Potatoes are quite fussy, and the big thing they need is good drainage.

What is your favorite Little Potato ? (Zoe)

I think our Something Blue is pretty exciting. It’s new for us. It’s yellow inside and blue-purple outside. It’s a one-of-a-kind brand new type from South America. It’s also really tasty: a velvety texture and very rich and complex flavor—one of our boldest yet—so it’s one of my favorites. I like to roast or barbecue Something Blue. If you mix them with veggies on the BBQ, they look fantastic.

Says Steve: Keep the questions coming, kids!

ISN’T IT INSPIRING DISCOVERING NEW THINGS WITH CHILDREN? WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE WAY TO HAVE FUN WHILE LEARNING WITH YOUR KIDS?

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