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Purveyor of Idle Observation

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Picking Potatoes in Northern Maine

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
Go to Comments | 6 Comments

The Library of Congress has a new photostream on photo-sharing site Flickr. This particular image struck close to home. The caption is “Children gathering potatoes on a large farm, vicinity of Caribou, Aroostook County, Me. Schools do not open until the potatoes are harvested.” I grew up in the neighboring and superior-in-every-way town of Presque Isle (Go Wildcats!) and picked potatoes for exactly one day with a friend of mine before saying the hell with farming and getting a job with the news.

(L to R) Octavia Panzeri, 16,  of Milan Italy, Kathrine Just, 16, of Laasby Denmark and Franze Zehentner, 17, of Villach Austria join other Caribou high school sudents in the New Sweden potatoe fields of classmate Finn Bondeson. (Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett)

While the schools today open before the potatoes are harvested, they still close down again for Harvest Break from mid-September until the first week or so in October. It’s a way of life that seems to say the more things change the more they stay the same, but it wasn’t always that way.

As the New York Times noted in 1989 in Presque Isle Journal; Changes On Horizon In Fields Of Potatoes changing economic pressures and the mechanization of farming have made the practice of Harvest break less of an economic necessity for farmers or children, but the tradition still seems to be thriving and is a point of pride for the people there.

See also: Aroostook County Potato Harvest and the Bangor Daily News, New hands share hard work of harvest

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Category: maine, photographers


6 Responses

  1. Bob says:

    I love to pick potatoes! Do you know if I can get a look at some of the potatoes?

  2. Bob says:

    I like your web site! It’s the bomb!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Sam says:

    You can’t find anything you need. I think you need to give more variaty in your website.

  4. Samantha says:

    Your clock is wrong. It’s 1:23 not 12:50

  5. Todd says:


    According to my parents – You have to pick 120 barrels a day. If you can’t then your a girly man.


  6. Todd says:


    Schools go in prior to harvest. They used to let us out for the harvest.


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