The Rotary Clubs of Muskoka will be handing out 40,000 lbs. of Prince Edward Island (PEI) potatoes to food banks, churches, and the various food assistance programs in the area.
The program is being done to help “one of the many” struggling family potato farms in PEI, the Sanderson Farm, and to help people dealing with poverty in Muskoka. John Mullen, President of the Rotary Club of Bracebridge, explains long-time rotarian Paul Hammond put them in contact with the farm.
Mullen says potato farmers have been “paralyzed” by an export ban to the United States on their fresh product since the end of November because of what’s called “potato wart.” The Canadian Food Inspection Agency explains that potato wart poses no threat to human health or food safety, but can reduce crop yield and make potatoes unmarketable.
Rotary club officials say “millions of pounds” of potatoes are set to be disposed of at the end of the month.
The potatoes will be handed out on Feb. 19 at 10 AM at the Fanotech warehouse on 50 Keith Rd. in Bracebridge. Mullen says the majority are accounted for, but suggests anyone interested in picking up the remaining potatoes reach out to their local rotary club with details on what they will be used for. “We have to have it fairly coordinated so we’re not tripping over each other,” he says.
Mullen says the potatoes were purchased for an undisclosed price. “The District of Muskoka working with the province were able to get some grant money that would be able to finance the whole project,” he goes on to say.
“It’s going to be great for showing how people work together in the District of Muskoka,” Mullen says.
Could this partnership continue? “As rotarians we never rule out anything,” he says.