September 14, 2018

The Mother Of All Potatoes

First potato from this year's potato patch - not quite The Mother Of All Potatoes, but still sacred.

When I pulled the first potato out of this year's pioneering potato patch, I was not disappointed. I know that every potato is sacred, partially because of what a class of neophyte gardening gurus taught me when I was a public school teacher.

In my last year of teaching, I pioneered a school garden with my grade four students. Everyone loved it - we were out of the cage, in the fresh air, planting and harvesting not only vegetables, but also magic.

We planted in the spring, and watched our 10 X 10 patch start growing. When summer came, volunteer students and their parents cared for the garden over the holidays. 

In the fall I returned to work. Before I went into my classroom, I hurried to the garden to see how it fared. Did it grow? Would it be vandalized, or raided? 

Boom! There it was, in all its glory. Sunflowers as high as the roof of the school. Potatoes, carrots, squash, beans and peas all bearing fruit. Everywhere green growing life, overflowing on all sides.

The students returned to class. Everyone was excited about the garden, and we looked forward to throwing a Harvest Lunch for the green thumbs and their parents. 

We went outside on a crisp day, and engaged in the day we had all been waiting for - the harvest. There was a celebratory festival feeling as the 28 tillers of the soil amazed at how rich our little plot became over the past few weeks. 

Soon everyone was investigating, digging, probing and picking. All of a sudden, a shout went up.

"The Mother Of All Potatoes", exclaimed a student after digging up a tremendous tuber.

A crowd gathered around to witness this wonderful event - a potato coming from the ground, not a grocery store display. How alive we all felt at that moment, surrounded by the bountiful gifts of nature that we helped nurture into being.

The Potato Pooba raised the spud to the heavens and repeated loudly, "The Mother of all Potatoes".

The Spud Whisperer began marching around the playground with the sacred potato held high. We all joined in behind, creating a long line of chanting, dancing, rejoicing harvesters. 

To children a garden is a magical place of beauty and bounty. From what I gather from my years of teaching young people, they pretty much see life like that. 

Every potato is sacred, from The Mother Of All, right down to the palm sized ones. That is what those little gardeners taught me that day, a lesson I will never forget.

The harvest lunch with the parents was a success. Excess produce was shared amongst the families. 


  1. I wish more people would grow a garden even small one. One tiny seed can make such magic and it truly is magic.

    1. If everyone did, the world would be a better place. We can no longer afford to ignore our connection to nature, and a garden is one of the best ways I know to revive this bond.

  2. That's a very encouraging and happymaking story, well-told. I love the title featuring the Mother, and the photo of the sacred "baby" firstling at top. Only once have I grown potatoes... I'd like to figure out how to do it again.

    1. Growing potatoes is fun. I used table potatoes that grew eyes. After I cut the eyes off, I cooked the rest of the potatoes and had them mashed.

      I put each eye in the soil and covered them. After they grew about 10 - 15 cm I hilled soil around them. I repeated the hilling with soil after the potatoes grew another 10 - 15 cm. Then I kept them watered, although in hindsight I see that I could have watered them more deeply.

      Fresh spuds are so delicious, whether they are Mothers or babies. Everyone should have a little potato patch. Good luck with yours.

  3. What a wonderful story, thank you! I am sure those kids will remember you their entire lives.

    1. It was an amazing, unforgettable moment for me, too.

  4. The gift of the harvest! Such an uplifting story, Gregg.

    1. The harvest means we are better stocked than any other time of year - so flush with yummies. Good thing because here comes the cold. Time to get set up to hunker down.

  5. Karen4:08 AM

    So lovely to read of children being excited by growing food. That's gorgeous. I'm growing potatoes for the first time this year and am pathetically excited about it myself lol. I also discovered (slightly too late to enter) that my daughter's classroom is having a garden competition amongst the children where by the teachers come to the kids homes to see what sort of vegetable gardening they do. It's just a fun thing but I love the message it sends this group of 6/7 year olds. That growing food at home is normal and FUN. That it's a part of a healthy education as much as math or reading. I suspect this is another bonus of living in a smalle country town... But imagine if it were instigated as part of every school curriculum? The changes we would see in our future.

    1. Karen,

      I the age of computers and virtual everything, this event was somewhat of a surprise for me. The kids were SO into the whole very real process of growing their own food.

      Studying plants is part of our curriculum, but many teachers do so by growing things like beans in the classroom. It works, but growing a whole garden (if possible) is a pretty powerful lesson. Our garden turned into a whole school/community project that brought us together in a most amazing way.

      And then to be able to share a meal made exclusively from our garden was a great celebration of the student's and parent's hard work. Best thing I did as a teacher was to help kids see that they do not need to be totally dependent on a sick system.

      It is personally satisfying to take control over ones own life, rather than be a passive victim of current destructive ways of meeting our needs. I like what your daughter's classroom is promoting. She is lucky.


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