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TAS Country : February 24th 2011
14 Friday, Febru Farm Feature Potato fa KEY PLAYERS: Potato growers Gerard a Purple potatoes are poised to take a Southern Tasmanian farming family into the potato selling stratosphere. land THIS Jennifer Crawley INFRASTRUCTURE: The Dalys' packing shed, above, is home to packing, washing and sorting machines. PURPLE Gem potatoes were launched in Penguin last week to a group of vegetable wholesalers and retailers who went ''crazy'' for them according to potato farmer Susie Daly said. Susie and her husband Gerard have been planting and digging potatoes for 25 years at Marion Bay in the state's south-east. They employ 12 people; have a packing shed big enough to house a fleet of packing, washing and sorting machines; and a 600 tonne coolroom to keep the potatoes fresh. The purple spuds were Susie's idea. ''We were losing market share and I wanted to offer our customers more variety,'' Susie said. ''People have forgotten what to do with potatoes -- they need to be shown again.'' A clear plastic package containing 1kg of Purple Gems comes with a recipe card. ''It's been six months of work, we've just launched and it's just gone off, everyone's saying: 'Where can I get them, where can I get them?'.'' A microwave container is in the pipeline and a new packing machine and a full-time agronomist are on the way. ''We are trying to make it convenient so people reach for potatoes rather than noodles or pasta,'' Susie said. The Dalys have stepped back from the day-to-day operations of their business, such is the demand for their Purple Gems and other gourmet potatoes. ''All I ever want to do is be out there on the grader,'' Susie said. ''And all he wants to do is be out there planting spuds. ''But it's got a bit bigger than that now for both of us.'' Boiled, mashed or baked, the Purple Gems stay purple. Susie said she mashed the potato for a group of children. ''One little girl who does not eat vegetables was more than happy to eat them,'' she said. ''They are drawn to them because of their colour.'' Gem potatoes contain the same pigment that makes blueberries blue -- anthocyanin. Susie sourced her first lot of seed from a woman selling gourmet potato seeds on the internet. ''I liked it so much I rang the grower and got as much of the seed as I could,'' she said.
February 17th 2011
March 3rd 2011