Photo of the Week
—– July 25, 2022 —–
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“How shall we know it is us without our past?”
– John Steinbeck
THE LONG ISLAND POTATO
The Famous Long Island Potato (on a Long Island Railroad Train). (From the Riverhead Pictorial Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
Long Island–site of the nation’s oldest potato-growing industry–has a history with potatoes dating back to at least the 1800s. According to Suffolk County historian Morton Pennypacker, however, the cultivation of the potato may date back to 1637, when Lion Gardiner reportedly planted the first white potatoes on Gardiner’s Island. Potato production on Long Island peaked in the late 1940s with over 70,000 acres grown by many hundreds of Long Island potato farmers. By the 1950s, Suffolk County ranked third among counties nationwide in potato production, and by 1963, the Potato Association of America was holding its 50th Anniversary celebration at Riverhead’s Perkins Hotel.
Long Island horticulturalist Edith Loring Fullerton explained in How to Make a Vegetable Garden (Doubleday, 1905) that the best potato crop is obtained by planting sections of the potato that have three eyes. Favorite potato varieties on Long Island at the turn of the twentieth century were Green Mountain, Rural New Yorker, Early Rose, and Gold Coin.
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