Topashaw Farms – Vardaman, MS
A getaway for the Edmondsons doesn't involve much "away." Their vacation spot is a cabin they built next to a lake, right in the middle of their sweet potato farm. For Joe, that's the dedication it takes to be a farmer – something he believes he inherited from his dad. "My father was a farmer. He died when I was young, so I was on my own, but I just always knew I wanted to be a farmer."
Now, Joe's kids are following in his footsteps, continuing the tradition of the 35-year-old family-run farm. "My kids started helping when they were just three or four years old! Now my daughter manages the shed with my wife and my two boys manage the potato fields – one sets them out in the spring, the other one harvests them."
When it comes to his sweet potatoes, Joe is focused on understanding the land. The Southern Mississippi River Basin has everything a sweet potato needs – long humid days, a long growing season and rich, fertile soil from the Mississippi floods. "We're on one of the best spots for sweet potatoes in the area," says Joe. "When you've worked with potatoes as long as I have, you know when the land is good and healthy, just by looking at it." Joe is determined to pass down these instincts to the next generation. "I told the kids, 'Never try to be the biggest, but always try to be the best.'"
Sweet potato of course!
Hold the sauce