Sloping east from the Rocky Mountains, the Canadian Prairie sweeps across Southern Alberta – a vast swath of gently rolling grassland that millions of potatoes call home. The warm summer sun shines almost constantly during the growing season, and the high elevation keeps the nights cool and clear. In addition to sandy, well-drained soil and low humidity, Southern Alberta has all the ingredients for potato perfection.
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Nate knows that farming is a lifestyle. "You have to love it to do it," he says. "We have employees that have been with us pretty much from our beginning in Alberta. They could obviously go and find a job doing something else, but they stay here because it's a way of life." For Nate, he's happiest when he can leave his phone in his truck, dig in his fields and leave everything behind. "Digging up a hill of potatoes, feeling the soil to see how they're growing – that's my happy place."
When he isn't out in his fields, you can usually find Mike at the nearby Old Man River, where they built a house on top of a ridge. "It's about as close to heaven as we can get here on earth," he says. "No cell service, and it's so quiet you can hear every animal that walks or flies by."
Farming isn't Mike's job. It's his life. "We're not looking at paychecks – we live and breathe this 24 hours a day, seven days a week," he says. "We don't think of potatoes as a commodity – they're actually what we eat. Our family, friends and neighbors all eat what we grow. We really care and we're personally involved in the growing."
Varieties of potatoes grown in Alberta
That’s more than the number of countries on Earth!