Quonset View Farm in Portsmouth, RI GAP certified
Some of what we grow is available year-round.
Portsmouth, RI - Overlooking the beautiful shoreline of Aquidneck Island, Quonset View Farm in Portsmouth is one of three potato farms left on the island. This 140-acre farm run by David M. and William J. Cotta has been in the family since 1915. David’s grandfather started out with a dairy farm, which was quite typical in those days. Times were tight and you had to be mighty creative. Most folks took to bartering. You bartered with your neighbors for your daily staples. “I’ll give you some fresh milk for some of your beef.” During the 1940s running a dairy farm became a struggle to maintain. So the family decided to grow potatoes, which were popular, practical and affordable at the time. The Cotta’s have been growing and harvesting potatoes ever since.
But Quonset View Farm grows much more, too. As part of their year-round business endeavors, rows and rows of strawberries ripen for the picking in the summer. Pumpkins are ready in the fall, and Christmas trees for the holidays. The farmers spend the winter making necessary repairs on their equipment and get ready for the spring planting.
How do you grow a great spud? Well, great soil helps. “There is just something about the soil in Portsmouth that grows a spectacular spud," says Farmer John Cotta, David’s nephew. Even though Rhode Island is a very small state, its soil varies from region to region. The farmers on Aquidneck Island found their soil to be perfect growing texture, not too sandy. What next? You then need a sprout to plant. The potato is cut into four pieces and then planted under the dirt about 3 or 4 inches. What kind to plant and grow? There are a tremendous variety of potatoes to choose from. However, the land and soil in the Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island area is most conducive to a “Norwiss” type of spud. The Norwiss variety is a round, thin skinned- white flesh potato.
When it is time to harvest the potatoes, the harvester (a large tractor full of various contraptions to dig up and gather the potatoes from the field) “kills” the plant, a blade slides thru the dirt mound and scoops up the potatoes and loads them into the truck. They are then brought into the barn where they are sorted by size and washed with fresh water and sponges. After they are cleaned and dried, the potatoes are weighed and bagged using scales that harken back to the 1950s. Quonset’s potatoes are sold and distributed to processors, schools and grocery stores. For restaurants they also grow a special chef’s size potato. It's nice and large, perfect for making mashed potatoes!
David’s nephew John truly enjoys farming the family land. There's no comparison to him between Yukon Golds trucked in from Idaho and the spuds grown right here. Quonset's have high moisture content and are naturally creamy. His favorite way to serve them? “Twice baked without a doubt!”