Richard Tippett is a spud man right down to his dusty bowyangs. He grows his potatoes at Scrub Hill, a rambling property with a tree-shaded 150-year-old home at the foot of a steep hill.
“You never put potatoes in the same paddock each year,” says 69-year-old Richard. Wheat, canola or lucerne are grown instead, with some farmers planting these crops in three-year cycles.
At last count, spuds were earning the state about $150 million a year. Richard says they have been grown in his district for around 80 years.
When it comes to what makes a good potato, Richard, a fourth-generation farmer with three children and seven grandchildren, tells of their uses. There are floury Sebagos and Pontiacs for mashing and baking, while for chips, Atlantic, Snowgem and Russet Burbank come up trumps. Dutch Creams are fine for both baking and mashing.
Ask him which variety he’d choose for his last meal and he pauses before nominating that red-skinned beauty, Desiree. Known for versatility, Desiree can be mashed, roasted or used in salads.
With their delicious yellow flesh, Desiree are, as Richard says in his understated way, “very nice”.
And as for finding the best, check out any of the road-side farm gates in our region. That adds a tiny touch of adventure to finding the desirable Desiree.