P.E.I. Potato Industry’s history video launched

Eric McCarthy newsroom@journalpioneer.com
Published on August 20, 2014

O’LEARY -- The reminiscing continued Wednesday well after a video on the history of the Prince Edward Island potato industry ended.

The video, Sharing the History of the P.E.I. Potato Industry with the Next Generation, was produced for the P.E.I. Potato Board and the Canadian Potato Museum by videographer Ian Petrie, a retired CBC Charlottetown agriculture reporter. The PEI2014 Fund covered approximately 85 per cent of the project costs.

Described as the centerpiece of a five-video series on the P.E.I. Potato industry, the video shown Wednesday features industry leaders of the 60s, 70s and 80s. They expanded upon their opinions and recollections in chats with one another after the video ended.

Kelvin Grove grower George MacMurdo said it was Petrie’s reputation of actually trying to find the facts of the potato industry that convinced him to be part of the video.

And Petrie called it “a great privilege” to do the work. “It was good to hear the pride that these growers had, and how the industry developed through the 50s, 60s and 70s, and what they did so well,” Petrie commented.

“This is a tough moment, but the industry shouldn’t forget this long, storied history of things that it did really well,” Petrie said.

Besides the main video that gives a general overview of the potato industry, there are shorter videos on the processing, seed and table sectors and one on innovation featuring manufacturer Donnie Allan.

Just inside the main entrance to the antique farm machinery display at the Potato Museum is the first two-row potato harvester Donnie Allan built.

Many of the growers in attendance indicated their farms have benefitted from the technology that Allan developed.

In a career that spanned nearly six decades, his company produced at least 7,000 machines for the potato industry, including 300 to 400 potato harvesters.

Petrie said he never tired of covering the P.EI. potato industry. “I’ve always found it interesting, because it’s the one industry that P.E.I. did well. It required an awful lot of entrepreneurship and risk-taking to do the things that they did.”

P.E.I. Potato Board president Gary Linkletter addressed the video presentation from the perspective of roots. “Some of those are out in the fields, but a lot of them, I think, are in our hearts.

“I think this is about our roots as an industry, where we came from.”

The video series can be viewed on YouTube through a P.E.I. Potato Board link and will also be played on a video loop at the Potato Museum.