Sunderland Farm Stand Hosts First “Potatofest”

The Recorder, October 3rd, 2015, by Rachel Rapkin.

What can you do with a potato? Quite a bit, it turns out.

On Saturday, during Smiarowski Farm Stand and Creamery’s first “potatofest,” the farm substituted the starchy staples for children’s game pieces. Games included a potato corn hole toss and a potato digging pit. Northampton resident Lynda Champagne brought her 7-year-old nephew, Reese Hervieux, to the festival and chuckled at the innovative potato-themed games.

“There aren’t a lot of things for children to do in the community,” she said. “This is great for the kids and the ideas are really creative.”

Deerfield resident Mary Jacobs brought her 3-year-old son, Caleb who was attracted to the digging pit. “He thinks he’s a farmer,” she said, then added, “Woah, that’s a big load,” as she watched him fill a steel beach pail to the brim with red potatoes.

Fastidious future farmer Caleb climbed into the pit and found almost every potato hidden beneath the sand. “My son is loving this,” she said. “He’s having a blast digging for these potatoes.”

Ted Smiarowski, owner of the farm stand, organized the festival in honor of the potato crop, saying it’s been a Pioneer Valley staple for about 100 years, adding that more than 4,000 acres of potatoes are grown in the area every year. He’s a third-generation potato farmer, earning him the nicknames “tater” and “spuds” throughout high school. “Everybody knew I was always growing potatoes,” Smiarowski said.

The potato harvesting season will come to an end in October. Throughout the year, the farm stand grows other crops such as cabbage, pumpkins and peas, various flowers in the summer and operates a creamery to keep themselves busy year round. “We are trying to appeal to the local food market,” said Kathy Dion, Smiarowski’s mother. “This is a good way to interact and support each other as farmers.”