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Rare Varieties Boost Business At Farmer’s Market
One way to attract interest at farmer’s markets – and generate lots of word-of-mouth advertising – is to become known for growing rare varieties of produce. Purple tomatoes, yellow carrots, or other unusually colored or strangely shaped veggies get lots of attention.
  Chris Homanics, who runs Skipley Farm near Snohomish, Wash., has taken that idea to the ultimate level by producing more than 200 varieties of apples and over 600 different varieties of potatoes.
  Homanics is a self-proclaimed potato hoarder who has gathered varieties from all over the world besides breeding new strains on his farm. He started his collection in 2006 and has been able to expand it through various seed saver exchanges and by working with other collectors. He has varieties from North and South America as well as Europe.
  Maintaining the huge collection is not without its challenges, especially record keeping and storage. Meticulous labeling and accurate field notes are crucial to keeping good records. Samples of each variety are kept in paper lunch sacks with identifying information, such as variety name and physical description written on the bag. The information is also kept in an Excel spreadsheet to track performance from year to year. A special root storage room is insulated and kept at around 45 degrees. He also frequently grows out potatoes from seed.
  Homanics plants about 300 of his 600 varieties each given year, taking the eye-catching produce to local markets along with his many apple varieties and other crops. The extra effort brings in customers.
  If you have an unusual variety to offer to Homanics, or if you would be interested in an exchange, contact him by email at: trixtrax@comcast.net.

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2014 - Volume #38, Issue #5