• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 27s

Alaska-grown potato sales decline

By Shannon Ballard Photojournalist: John Thain - 6:40 PM August 13, 2014
PALMER –

On the last day of summer break in the Mat-Su Valley, some students are found in a field.

It’s peak harvest season at VanderWeele Farm in Palmer.

Mixed vegetables like broccoli and lettuce are in demand and sales have been good, but greens are just a third of what this farm produces.

The real moneymaker is potatoes.

“We try to supply the Anchorage market and Fairbanks and Soldotna, the Kenai Peninsula,” said farmer Ben VanderWeele.

VanderWeele harvests 2,000 tons of potatoes every year, but in his 46 years of growing in the Valley he has never had the problem he faces now.

Inside his storage refrigerator are mounds of spuds he says shouldn’t be there.

“I have too many left, that’s right. They need to be gone before we start harvest, which is Monday after Labor Day. They need to be out of here so we can put the new crop in here,” VanderWeele said.

Alaska-grown potato sales at grocery stores are way down compared to last year, according to the state Division of Agriculture.

Major potato producers, like VanderWeele, are worried they will not sell all of last year’s potatoes before it’s time to harvest next month.

“We’ve got bills today and the bills are being paid by the sell of potatoes,” VanderWeele said.

He is hoping Alaskans will step up to help the local potato industry by choosing to buy local.

There are a number of factors contributing to slow potato sales, according to the state. They include dieting trends to avoid starchy food, more interest in specialty potatoes, and lower-priced spuds coming up from Outside.

VanderWeele gives all of his smaller potatoes to charity. The ones he can’t sell or give away will go to feed animals.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Former Guard member speaks out about her assault

    by Emily Carlson on Oct 31, 11:23

    A former Alaska National Guard member says it wasn’t what Guard leadership did, it’s what they didn’t do that nearly killed her after she was sexually assaulted. In the wake of the September report that revealed claims of misconduct and mistrust within the Guard, Spc. Melissa Jones is speaking out. It’s agonizing, she says, but […]

  • On-Air

    Frost project hides art throughout Anchorage parks

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 31, 11:10

    The dark woods can be a scary place, so some local artists are helping to brighten them up this season. You can see new art installations popping up throughout Anchorage, if you know where to look. Every few weeks throughout the winter a new piece will be hidden in a local park and Daybreak will […]

  • On-Air

    Meet Baby Girl, this week’s Daybreak Adopt-A-Pet

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Oct 31, 9:29

    Meet Baby Girl, a spayed, domestic short-hair kitty. She is social and affectionate and will greet you with a purr. She is full of love — even offering little kitty kisses — and loves to be pet, nudging you gently to ask for more. Baby Girl is a senior kitty who has lived with both […]

  • Weather

    Daybreak weather, Oct. 31

    by Brett Shepard on Oct 31, 8:45

    Clouds will be returning today to Southcentral from southwest to northeast. Moisture will move into the Prince William Sound and eastern Kenai Peninsula, beginning as snow then mixing with and changing over to rain at the lower elevations. The rest of the region will see just a few isolated snow showers tonight. This includes the […]

  • Crime

    Fairbanks attempted murder suspect arrested in Ohio

    by Associated Press on Oct 31, 8:08

    A Fairbanks man sought on an attempted murder warrant has been arrested in Ohio. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1voAv8f) reports 39-year-old Richard Walker Lane was taken into custody Wednesday by Warren County Sheriff Department deputies at a home in Morrow near Cincinnati. Alaska State Troopers say Lane on Aug. 24 forced his way into a […]

  • On-Air

    Get Out: Alaska K9 Aquatics

    by Brett Shepard on Oct 31, 7:59

    This week’s Get Out is one for the dogs. I visited a place called Alaska K9 Aquatics and brought my basset hound, Einstein, with me. My Daybreak friends James Gaddis and Megan Mazurek also joined us with their pooches, Obi and Isla. Alaska K9 Aquatics is the only swimming pool for dogs in Anchorage. It’s […]

  • News

    Yupik speakers get ballot translation help from radio station

    by Kate McPherson on Oct 31, 7:21

    With only a few days before the general election, Bethel radio host and translator John Active is reading information to voters in Yupik. “In the past it was not adequate, not at all, not at all,” said the 66-year-old, who was born in Bethel and raised by his Yupik-speaking grandmother. Active says Yupik speakers don’t […]

  • News

    In Kenai, search continues for missing family

    by Bonney Bowman on Oct 30, 22:46

    Kenai police are making a last push to find a missing family of four and their dog. Rebecca Adams, her two daughters and her boyfriend, Brandon Jividen, have been missing since late May. Kenai police conducted what could be their last search for the family Thursday. They focused their efforts on the large wooded area […]