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Down East Magazine, Small Potatoers

Small Potatoers

Harvest technology has advanced over the last 75 years. Adolescent styles have certainly changed. But the autumn objective for many kids across Aroostook County is the same in 2015 as for these boys in October 1940: to harvest the potato crop before the ground freezes. To help accomplish this, a handful of schools across The County still close for “harvest recess,” typically a three-week break from late September through Columbus Day. But the tradition’s days may be numbered — Maine Potato Board executive director Don Flannery recently told the Associated Press he would “be surprised” if it lasted another decade. Worth an estimated $170 million annually, potatoes remain Maine’s top crop, but many farms now prefer to fill the 1,600–2,000 seasonal harvesting positions with adults, and schools want to standardize the academic calendar. So harvest recess may soon go the way of those flannel earflap hats.

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Photo: Jack Delano, Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division


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