This year is a year of celebration for us: The Little Potato Company’s 20th anniversary!! It’s been the perfect time for reflection, a looking back at the 20 year history of this little potato company. I’ve thought about all the many changes this company has experienced – from locations, logos, packaging, names, people, growers, varieties . . . but throughout our history there has been a constant image that has always reappeared for me. . . or more accurately has steadfastly remained in my heart and mind since the very beginning. It is an iconic image that pulls me again and again to a deep and layered meaning of what we are all about.
It’s not the logo, or our packaging or the aging pictures of me found in newspaper clippings and marketing prints throughout the years. It’s actually the image of two cusped hands holding a handful of little potatoes. This image seems to keep resurfacing in our history or rather has always been there.
For me it’s this image that truly embodies this company. Its not just an image that we’ve seen in pictures – but I see this image countless times in the year; during our variety development days when we unearth potential varieties. I’ve seen the image out in the fields with the growers as they check the fields. It’s our front line of quality control. The farmers gather up dirty potatoes in their hands to see what we’ve got in the ground – to see if all their work is going pay off.
That image reappears many more times before our Creamers leave our sorting and washing facility. That image of two cusped hands holding our potatoes represents the distilled living embodiment of all we do at the Little Potato company. All our stakes are in those hands, whether it is the farmer’s hands, our packer’s hands or the customer’s hands. Those hands are us… and our fate.
This image for me also represents some of the personal milestones for me starting this company. It reminds me of when we dug up our first small potatoes in an acre south of Edmonton, a couple of shovels, a potato fork and a small dream. We pulled our first plants out and I reached into the earth to grab what was a whole new path of life for me. As I dug deeper into the soil to make sure I didn’t miss anything, I pulled up the little spuds and held them in my hands and thought to myself “How the heck did my dad talk me into this?”
But we continued with it – maybe now hypnotized by, this now iconic image. I certainly saw the image again and again as we washed the first batches in the now infamous bathtub, and when bagging the first lots we sold to delis.
As I think back even further, I imagine my dad, as a child seeing the image of his small hands clasping potatoes while helping his dad in Northern Holland. I suspect this is part of what drives my father whether he’s conscious of it or not. He’s driven to recreate this image for himself. Every year when the potato plants are growing, my dad partakes of a daily ritual of checking the fields. Often it is first thing in the morning just after the sun rises. He gets into his truck, often by himself, but many times he’ll invite his children or grandchildren or some unsuspecting person to accompany him to check the fields. This is his meditation of bending down on his knees between the rows of potato plants, reaching his hands into the earth, and pulling out from the soil a handful of potatoes. Performing the same movements as his father did and many fathers and farmers have done before him. I think it’s more than quality control for my dad. This daily act my dad performs, recreating this image, brings him back to the root of it all – the root of his story and the story of the potato and of all living things.
If I were to use this image to represent what drives me, it would be a bit different from what it means to my dad. When I see or think of this image I see the care and respect that those hands are holding. I see not just a potato but I see strong hands nurturing what those potatoes can do not just for us as a company but for the world.
I see those hands by my hands, proud and privileged to lead and care for such an amazing group of people. I see the hands of everyone that chooses to not just work with us but chooses to live out their potential and share their gifts here. That energy I am sure has been felt by everyone who has participated and contributed to the growth of our company in some way or another. I am so grateful for all those who have held out their hands for our potatoes whether literally or in some display of their care and respect for what we believe in.
After 20 years I am astounded really by how this glorious humble potato has taken me on a path that is still inspiring and challenging. This image not only represents the company’s history but it symbolizes who we are going forward. And I know from experience that in offering this gift – my open hands, it has also become the greatest gift I am able to receive.
Thanks for reading,
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