Hirai Farms – Wendell, ID
"I get to be around potatoes all day!" Greg Hirai has a pretty clear idea of his ideal potato. It's nicely sized and shaped, with a medium-brown skin – and it's perfect for fries. A third-generation farmer, Greg's been growing potatoes in the Snake River Valley for 20 years and has a deep understanding of the land. "Our soil is very easy to work with – it's a blend of volcanic soil and sand, which potatoes love. But you have to take care of it, otherwise it will erode and become vulnerable. We have a lot of strategies to keep it healthy."
A year on the farm is all about ebb and flow. "It's seasonal for sure," he says. "We work long hours during planting and harvest – as long as daylight permits. But we get to slow down a little in the deep summer when the fields are growing." By the time harvest rolls around in October, everyone is looking forward to the harvest party. "It's a real family atmosphere here," says Greg. His own family is still growing – his three kids are 8, 13 and 16. "I suspect they'll be fourth-generation farmers, but right now they want to be superheroes!"
In Greg's part of Idaho's Magic Valley, the Yellowstone mountain snow runoff that hydrates his potatoes also supports thriving trout farms. He does all he can to keep the ecosystem strong. "We want our farmland to be sustainable for future generations. We aren't mining the soils or leaving them barren. We aren't pumping out a commodity – we're growing food and we take a lot of pride in what we do."
Skiing, hunting and fishing
Seasoned straight cut
Fry sauce – yes or no
Occasionally – I prefer my fries plain