Farming is in His Blood

Posted in Farming on Thursday, May 05, 2022

Farming is in His Blood

Farming is in his blood

For Darrin Morrison, growing potatoes isn’t just a job, it’s his heritage. “My grandfather was a Swedish immigrant, came to the United States in the late 1890s, ended up settling here in the Skagit Valley, and the rest is history,” he explained to Washington Grown’s co-host Val Thomas-Matson. Specifically, Morrison and his family have been growing the iconic Skagit River Valley red potatoes for generations. Like his neighbors, Morrison is able to grow some of the most vibrant red potatoes on the planet. In fact, this region is one of the few in the world that can grow these unique spuds.

“You can grow potatoes in a lot of different climates, but in the Skagit Valley, it’s a pretty remarkable area, agriculturally. It’s a maritime climate, so it doesn’t get very hot, and it doesn’t get very cold,” he said. “It’s a very consistent type of temperature, and I think the soil temperature stays cooler than it would, say, in a desert climate or where you get into the 100s and the 90s. Our red color of our potatoes seems to be even more vibrant.”

While the Skagit area grows great potatoes, farmers do face challenges.

Water is a big challenge for farming in the Skagit Valley. We need it for the crops, but we also need to be able to move it off the field in order to farm. If the soil is too wet, the roots don’t like it and you’re unable to even drive a tractor across the fields,” he said.

He explained that to manage all of the water, they use a system of drainage canals.

“The tide is out, and there’s a series of gates that open up and allow all this water that’s collected from rain and running off of all those mountains back there, coming down through the farmland, and now it’s exiting out, going through a gate, and going right into the Puget Sound. During the summer months, we can reverse this process and actually maintain and hold the water back, instead of letting it go, and use it for crops. It’s a dual purpose, but without the drainage infrastructure, we aren’t farming. We’re not building roads. We’re not building homes. The whole economy is connected to that infrastructure.”

What’s the one thing that he would love people to know about farming?

“That we’re here, that we’re doing this. Most people don’t have a clue when they come up here, and we’re only 60 miles from Seattle and downtown Seattle. Most of them drive right in front of our farm on the interstate and really don’t appreciate where their food comes from or even just know about farming. We all work really hard to ensure that we have safe and healthy food and food that tastes good, and yet we want to return the favor to the land that produces it for us. We’re here taking care of that land too, and I think if you asked any farmer here, that’s the number one thing. We want to feel that people recognize what we’re doing here is a benefit to a lot of people.”