Meet our Growers – Glen Ryan

“Potato farming is in my blood” – Glen Ryan 

Quinninup grower Glen Ryan is passionate about potatoes. On the farm, located about 320 kilometres south of Perth, Glen’s family have grown a range of crops since the late 60’s, including lemons, avocados, kiwi fruit, beef cattle and of course lots of potatoes. 

Q: What do you love about potato farming? 

A: The freedom of making your own decisions, for farming generally. Potato farming is in my blood. I love working the ground and then observing the crop mature. To see plants grow strongly and healthily and produce good tubers is very rewarding. It is a nervous time leading into harvest!

It still blows visitors away when we show them the potato tubers growing underground, that always gives me a buzz. To see processes you have put in place come to fruition is extremely rewarding, especially when they are longer term. To hopefully see the industry transition to an export focus will also be exciting. 

Q: Which is your favourite potato variety? 

A: Laura, even though we no longer grow it! The taste was supreme. Currently though it’s Red Fantasy which is similar to Rodeo, again because of its great taste. As a growing variety it has to be Nadine, it’s a pleasure to grow.

Q: What is your favourite potato recipe? 

A: Smash and Mash. Even I can cook it!! Cook whole unpeeled Red Fantasy or Rodeo (until they are still firm, then spread them in a baking dish. Using a Potato masher, smash them lightly until they break open. Drizzle olive oil and add Himalayan pink rock salt, and bake in an oven until they are crispy. 

Q: Is there anything about potato farming that you wish consumers knew? 

A: In no particular order…

The time, effort and money used to grow a good fresh potato crop, seed crop or processing crop. The timeframe can be up to four years or more and involve huge capital and financial investment from an early stage.

The high standards set by supermarkets for potatoes. Visitors are surprised and even shocked when they see the wastage on the ground after harvest. The comments are always, “there must be a market for them”.  It is still extremely annoying to see good, sound but slightly defective spuds on the ground.

Choose carefully where you purchase potatoes and the way they are presented. Dirt on spuds is a natural and effective protectant. Try to return as much money to the grower as possible.

I’s also like people to understand how much more intense farming has become during my 37 years growing potatoes. I fear for the next generation and their ability to withstand it.

Q: What does the future hold for your farm? 

A: My son Denver is farming with us at the moment and seems keen to stay. My other son Jonte is in Perth studying but loves coming home. You never know! It is a buzz to have one of your children wanting to continue the operation.