2017 Sweet Potato Round-Up & Fall Farming Market Sept 23

The New Port Richey FarmNet is pleased to announce the 2017 Sweet Potato Round-Up and Fall Farming Market taking place on Saturday, September 23, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the West Pasco Habitat for Humanity (4131 Madison Street) in New Port Richey. It is open to the public and there is not charge to attend.

The Sweet Potato Round-Up will feature hundreds of pounds of locally grown, heirloom, organic sweet potatoes, offered by FarmNet growers. These sweet potatoes have been grown–slip to harvest–without chemical fertilizers, fungicides, or pesticides.

There will be several varieties offered to the public, including: Georgia Jets, Beauregards, Centennials, and Nancy Halls. Sizes will vary from small (fingerlings) to extra-large, and quality will range from A to C. On display will the largest sweet potato the growers have ever seen in these parts – weighing in at over five pounds.

Members of the Grand Garden on Grand Boulevard in New Port Richey show the season’s first harvest of sweet potatoes (from left to right: Dell deChant, Dylan Hanlon, and Sylvia Spencer)

Visitors to this event will notice that these local, all natural sweet potatoes will look different from those found in commercial groceries, which sell only the grade-A fancy variety.  The Sweet Potato Round-Up will be offering the entire crop, which means there will be plenty that are strangely shaped, many will have blemishes and may need some cutting and trimming.  There will also be good quantities of those grade-A fancies.  These are also heirloom varieties, the type that simply are no longer marketed in the industrial food system.  Buying and using these sweet potatoes supports local organic agriculture, local growers, community gardens, and the FarmNet market project. It also keeps resources in the community, and supports those who have made a commitment to this community.

Besides the fresh spuds, we’ll also have sweet potato recipes available, and samples of various ways to prepare sweet potatoes.

In addition to the Sweet Potato Round-Up, FarmNet is presenting its annual Fall Farming Festival.  The festival will feature seeds and seedlings for fall vegetable gardens. Friendship Farms & Fare Springs Coast Watershed Seed Bank will have locally acclimated broccoli, gandules (pigeon peas), and arugula seeds and seedlings for sale.

A wide assortment of other seeds and seedlings appropriate for fall and winter gardens will be on sale, including: kale, collards, Swiss chard, cabbage, and other cool weather crops.  They will also have cucumbers, peppers, and tomatoes, which are recommended for the fall.

All local organic growers are invited to join FarmNet, sell produce through its online market, participate in the weekly Saturday market, and receive special invitations to seasonal local farming festivals.

For more information about this event call Marilynn deChant at 813-974-0576.  To be a vendor at the Round-Up, contact Anne Short at [email protected]

Sweet Potato Trivia

Did you Know: Despite its name, the sweet potato is not related to the potato. Sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family, while potatoes are members of the Solanaceae family, which also includes tomatoes, red peppers and eggplant.

Sweet potatoes are tuberous roots and potatoes are actually swollen stems. Despite a physical similarity, sweet potatoes and yams are not related either. However, most yams marketed in the United States are actually sweet potatoes, with a relatively moist texture and orange flesh. Widely established throughout the world, the sweet potato is a favorite staple of many cultures and is an ingredient in many ethnic cuisines.

Sweet potatoes have become more popular in the U.S. in recent years with consumption increasing nearly 80 percent between 2000 and 2014, reaching 7.5 pounds per capita. Growing consumer demand for sweet potatoes may be due to the promotion of the tuber’s health benefits. Sweet potatoes are higher in beta carotene than many other vegetables and are a source of potassium, fiber, and vitamins A and C (USDA ARS 2012). Linda Naeve “Sweet Potatoes” (Agricultural Marketing Resource Center) http://www.agmrc.org/commodities-products/vegetables/sweet-potatoes/