Knowing Your Roots

Potato plants in fieldThe phrase “Reap what you sow” is one of those phrases that often times congers up negative connotations. While it is true that there is a part of this verse from the Book of Galatians that warns that putting little effort or effort with mal intentions into something will lead to negative consequences, there is a positive side to the phrase as well. If you put good and honorable work into something, good things will come out of that effort. Such is the way of farming in the truest of senses.

At Bushmans’ Inc., we subscribe to the notion of “getting what you put in” both at the farm level and in life. As you can imagine this is the time of year for us to sow our seed potatoes. The snow is finally gone, the frost is out of the ground, the days are getting longer and the soil temperatures are warming up. The biological clocks of the potato seed pieces are telling them it is time to start to grow.

This time of year there are a limited number of things we can control as we plant. One is to put the highest quality seed into the ground. We make sure we use seed that has been certified according to state rules so we know it is free of diseases, which will limit the amount of crop protectants that will be needed later in the growing season. High quality seed also has more vigor, grows at a faster rate and produces tubers that are more uniform in both size and shape. As we go through the distraction that we call planting, we know that using the right seed makes us confident we’re off to a good start. Furthermore, the likelihood of a good harvest increases dramatically by starting the season on the right foot.

This rule of thumb not only applies on the farm, but also in our lives as well. We believe that what we do is honorable and good. Growing food to feed people is important. We are fortunate that we can do our part to ensure people have what they need for sustenance; we do that in a responsible and sustainable way. Fortunately, we are blessed in this country to have an abundance of food. But sometimes I fear that we take that abundance for granted. We can, on any given day, shop at super stores at any time of day and buy any type of food that we could imagine at incredibly reasonable prices. Even the less fortunate among us in our country can enroll in programs designed to make sure that their basic need of food is taken care of. In short, food is plentiful and readily available.

That isn’t the case in other areas of the world. The potato industry in Wisconsin has worked with an organization called “Feed My Starving Children” to help reduce hunger by raising money to pack meals for hungry children made out of dehydrated potatoes. The formulations of these meals, also known as “Manapacks” are designed to either help wean infants from their mother’s milk or to halt diarrhea in malnourished children. This is the third year in a row that as an industry, we have raised tens of thousands of dollars from real farms in Wisconsin, and then assembled hundreds of volunteers from throughout our communities to pack over 100,000 meals one Saturday each June. If you’re interested in being a part of this meaningful event, please check out more details at

Some people are surprised and amazed that competitors in our industry would work together to make something like this happen. It doesn’t surprise me one bit. That is how agriculture always has been, and God willing, will remain as we move forward. Ag has always known about the importance of reaping what you sow, which is one of the many reasons I am proud to be associated with this incredible industry.

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