As promised, here’s the second edition of our farm tour featuring the Watts Brothers Farm. In this half of the Q&A, we learn the distinctions between yams from sweet potatoes, potato farming tips for the home grower, and more insight in the origins of Alexia products. Be sure to check out below for an exclusive coupon, courtesy of Alexia Foods.
1. Many people are confused about the difference between sweet potatoes and yams. Explain how both vegetables are separate entities.
a. Yams and sweet potatoes are actually completely different species. Sweet potatoes typically available in the U.S. have a golden skin with creamy white flesh and a crumbly texture or a copper skin with an orange flesh that is sweet and soft. They’re related to the morning glory. Yams are usually sweeter than sweet potatoes, but are starchier and drier with an almost black bark-like skin and white, purple or reddish flesh. They’re related to lilies and grasses in the plant family.
b. Watts Brothers Farm focuses on Russet potato varieties and does not grow sweet potatoes. We work with a variety of farmers to bring delicious sweet potatoes to tables across America.
2. Potatoes have long been one of the most consumed vegetables in this country. Have those amounts increased over the years?
We continue to see an increase in demand for potatoes from the Watts Brothers Farm, especially in terms of Alexia (the great variety of products just flies off the shelves!). We anticipate this demand to continue and are working hard to take care of the fields and potato crop to keep production strong.
3. What are some of the easiest varieties of potatoes for the home gardener or community gardener to grow? Do you have any advice for growing potatoes?
Head potato grower Armando’s favorite potato is the Umatilla, which he feels is the most “cooperative.” A few notes of advice from him include:
a. Make sure the soil is very cultivated, since potatoes grow under-ground, they need the room and flexibility to grow. A sandy soil is best, which is a big reason why the volcanic soil found at the Watts Brothers Farm is perfect for growing potatoes.
b. They like full sun to partial shade and a good amount of water, about an inch a week, but sometimes less—often needing less water the bigger they get.
c. Don’t forget to add compost to the soil—potatoes do very well in soil with good organic content.
4. How does the irrigation system impact the potato growth? Are crops protected during a drought? Have you been affected by the current drought afflicting many growers throughout the country?
Irrigation is an important part of our growing success, as it is for most farms in the Western U.S. The NW was slightly effected by the drought, but our crops are in great shape.
5. Are the Alexia products prepared there or in a separate location? If not, how far do the potatoes travel for cleaning and preparation? Once the potatoes are delivered, how much of a connection do you have with Alexia Foods and the crop?
Potatoes grown at the Watts Brothers Farm are prepared just across the Columbia River in Boardman, Ore. Our farmers are involved with the final product consumers receive, ensuring the quality that leaves our farm and reaches the table is what Alexia fans have come to expect.
6. Is there any connection between the farmer’s knowledge of crops and the Alexia Foods’ recipe testing/research & development sector? Do the two collaborate to discuss which varieties may work best with certain cuts, seasonings, cooking methods, etc.?
We work very hard to ensure the best all-natural ingredients are used, which is why Alexia products taste so delicious with a few simple ingredients. We’re constantly coming up with new flavor and recipe ideas at our test kitchen, which is very close to the Watts Brothers Farm.
As a perk of being an Alexia Tastemaker, we’re giving you exclusive access to a $1 off coupon to use on any Alexia sweet potato product. Feel free to share it with your folks on Twitter, Facebook, and beyond. You can find the coupon HERE.
Plus, don’t forget you can also sign up to be an Alexia Ambassador and earn points towards other great prizes – like more exclusive coupons, recipes, kitchen swag and more. Simply visit http://rewards.alexiafoods.com to get started.
Disclaimer: We are part of the Alexia Foods Tastemaker Program and received samples and compensation for participation. All opinions given are our own. Information and photos provided by Alexia Foods.