The second half of the update on this year’s MPB Legislative Tour!
Dominic LaJoie gives Rep Michelle Dunphy of Old Town an impromptu agronomy lesson on potato tubersDay 2 was a long day on the legislative tour. The bus pulled out at 7:30 with a first stop at Theriault’s John Deere dealership. The stop afforded numerous legislators the opportunity to “drive” one of the huge pieces of equipment on the lot. Even more amazing that the size of farm equipment was the six figure price tag for much of it. It certainly helped focus the attendees on the incredible investment potato growers have in their operations.
(Pictured at right: Dominic LaJoie gives Rep Michelle Dunphy of Old Town an impromptu agronomy lesson on potato tubers.)
After a quick stop for a discussion on irrigation and the chance to talk with Caribou grower Alan Moir about his experience and need for irrigation, the bus moved on into the St. John Valley and a stop at the LaJoie family farming operation, LaJoie Growers.
The LaJoie family is a multi-generational group that has branched out into some interesting crops: the traditional potato varieties as well as different blue potatoes, maybe some pink potatoes if the market is there, and also beets and carrots. Parsnips are new this year. The LaJoies focus much of their effort on the vegetable chip market. They provide the blue potatoes, red beets and candy striped beets for Terra. Ever fly Jet Blue? You’re eating Van Buren-grown Maine blue potatoes!
Following a great lunch and farm tour…on around Long Lake and to St. Agatha to visit LaBrie Farms. Keith LaBrie is vice chair of the Maine Potato Board; he and his brother farm on the shores of Long Lake, joined by younger family members and watched over by supposedly retired dad Danny LaBrie! The LaBries are most conscious of utilizing sustainable environmental practices in their farming operations, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also they have great respect for the land and water around them and want to keep it that way.
(Pictured at left: The LaBrie family of St Agatha hosted the 2015 legislative tour at their home farm on the shore of Long Lake. Keith’s wife Josie, daughter Sylvia, and family patriarch Danny welcomed the group to their home town!)
The tour ended with a social time and dinner with other county growers at the well-known Sporting Club on the shores of Long Lake. Long bus ride back to Presque Isle, but a day well worth it.