Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Great Potato Famine

Vanessa Currie, an Agriculture Technician at the University of Guelph in Southern Ontario, is growing the potato that led to the Great Potato Famine in Ireland.

The potato variety—called the Lumper—was the one most likely grown in Ireland. It will be on display at the Potato Day Show on Wednesday, August 12th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the university's Elora Research Station.

Known as a "historical specialty", the growing of the Lumper variety of potato most likely led to the blight which caused massive immigration to Canada in the mid-1800s.

Currie says that the potato looks as healthy as the others in the fields this summer, so she is anxious to harvest them. She plans to dig out a few for tomorrow's display and then harvest the rest in September.

She is going to evaluate the variety for its taste, cooking, and storage to see how it does.

Canadian farmers likely grew the Lumper variety in the early 1800's, but she doesn't know if they grew them after the Irish Famine.

She got the seed from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada potato gene bank in Fredericton, New Brunswick.