In the late 90s, LaJoie Growers was struggling and looking for a new niche market they could get into. LaJoie’s uncle Dominick was offered purple seed potatoes by a friend and found that they grew well. Today, most of the crop goes to a company in Pennsylvania that makes purple potato chips.
The potatoes seen here are 80 days into growing and are starting to bulk up and then mature. The soil is a dense mix of stones and organic matter which gives it great water-holding capacity. Specialized harvest equipment with a vacuum separates the stones from the crop in the field. More stones are removed in storage and again in shipping. Once the potatoes are harvested, the trucks bring the potatoes to the warehouse where a soap tank brings them to the wash system. From there, the potatoes are put through the grading line which divides the crop into different sizes. After the potatoes are sorted, they are packed into one-ton bags.
LaJoie Growers ship all over and own their own trucking company which helps them guarantee delivery by certain deadlines to their customers. They even utilized the rail system, with insulated rail cars, to ship potatoes for processing to the western United States. Being heavily involved in transportation has been very beneficial for LaJoie Growers’ operation because it is an industry that goes hand in hand with potatoes.
LaJoie has three young children with his wife Ashely whom he happened to meet at a potato industry dinner. LaJoie worked closely with his grandfather when learning about the potato business. While his grandfather has since passed, his grandmother Maxine gets to see her two sons and two grandsons carry on the family legacy.