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What's New at Moose Tubers

moose letter - top imageWelcome to Moose Tubers. This is our 29th year offering certified seed potatoes, onion and shallot sets, and NEW! this year, ginger and sweet potato stock. Also new this year is an early shipment option for a few potato varieties, Augusta, Red Gold and Blue Gold, selected for their performance in hoophouses-be the first to bring taters to market!

As small farmers, we're on the edge, hoping our tiny seasonal profits will be enough to buy us some decent insulation for our houses. One extra vehicle repair or health challenge, and the red stays red for longer, or forever. When the last of the carrots are in and the tools are put away for the winter, or when the milk slows down and all the forage is cut, we can crunch numbers and assess who our winter predators are. On a farm we face the depths of debt in the dark days of winter. As taxes are prepared, and last year's incomes are weighed against the expenses, we attempt to strategize, to overhaul some of last year's methods and fine-tune others. June comes around and potting-soil invoices stack up, unpaid bills collect interest, and then the tractor breaks.

Farmers can barely put out daily fires, much less work on the larger issue of diverting food dollars from multinational corporations into the hands of those scrappy assiduous farm-working individuals. Food profits are made on the industrial farm and food-processing belt, and those who honor more sustainable organic farming practices struggle to make ends meet, even if they attend business classes in the winter.

moose letter - bottom imageFact is, most of what this country puts in its belly comes from the industrial food belt. Big ag and industrial food chomp away at potential income streams for local economies. In Maine, our small community of growers has built a steadfast foundation of educational opportunities for apprentices, journeypeople and fledgling farmers, guiding them to become viable growers and business people. But we haven't done enough to build the local demand necessary to support these new growers. Any Saturday during the farmers' market in Portland, ME, droves of folks line up at the Whole Foods check-out, shopping baskets brimming with expensive produce, grown somewhere else. This scene creates those tight margins for farmers growing and vending in Maine. A dollar spent on globalized industrial food is a dollar stripped from the local organic market. While farmers in Maine can offer high-quality crops from well-nourished fields, Whole Foods will forever be able to outspend them on marketing, branding, packaging and convenience.

The food issue touches all of the great challenges and potential disasters of our generation. Water, hunger, fuel, concentrated wealth and marginalized peoples are at the mercy of agribusiness. Our challenge is to forge long-lasting friendships among farmers, gardeners and eaters, all willing to resist the corporate demand for consumer dollars. Growing our local economies, feeding ourselves and swapping skills are good measures we've taken to ensure our success. Agribusiness is a slimy french fry on the diverse platter of American foodscapes. Let's choose the locally grown potato!

Good luck growing.
Margaret Liebman