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January 2016
A Sense of Place By Bill Schaefer

I feel the ice-cold breath of 2016 breathing down my neck. How can this be? Wasn’t it just last week that I was sitting in the Spudman booth at the 2015 POTATO EXPO in sunny Orlando?

EXPO and winter conferences will soon be upon us, and though I’m not a fan of crowded airports, I do enjoy being able to visit with the many people I’ve come to know while covering the potato industry. You can catch up on the EXPO speakers and special events and all the winter meetings on page ??

Last year, during the fall harvest of 2014, my dog, Clea, and I spent a couple of weeks traveling through the Midwest visiting growers.

I have found in my travels during the past six years that there’s a different sense of place to each harvest setting. Whether it’s a Midwest harvest, a Maine harvest, a Colorado harvest or a Pacific Northwest harvest, there’s a different light, a different smell and a different feeling.

And so it was when I dropped in on the Iott brothers in Kalkaska, Michigan. Fall in Michigan is a wonderful place to be.

Iotts have been farming in Michigan since the end of the 19th century. How they ended up in Michigan from New Brunswick is an interesting sidebar you can find in the grower profile on page ??.

And now for something completely different.

A science-fiction book review.

A few months ago, I received advance publicity for the movie The Martian.” If you’ve seen the movie, then you already know the story.

I asked my good friend and science-fiction author Phil Nolte to review the book’s theoretical concept of growing potatoes on Mars.

You may recognize Nolte as University of Idaho’s Research and Extension seed potato pathologist. What you may not know is he recently retired from that position to pursue his writing career.

I asked Nolte to review the novel’s take on growing Martian potatoes, and how close this science fiction tale hews to reality. The review is on page ?? I think you’ll enjoy his deconstruction of the plot.



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