Potatoes have played a significant role in Queen Creek’s agricultural foundation, as far back as the 1930s. The potato, one of our most important food crops, came under cultivation in South America more than 2,000 years ago. Potatoes, of which there are hundreds of varieties in every shape, size, and color, are classified as a cool-season crop; and, can be found in all 50 states.
Potato harvest time in the San Tan Mountains’ region was a big event. In years past, school children would often be released from classes in the middle of May to participate in production; picking up the potatoes, working/grading at the sheds, or baby-sitting so that the parents could be available to work. The potato sheds gave many young people the chance to work each summer; and for many, it is remembered as their very first job. In the late 1950s, Frito-Lay came to the area and established agreements with several of the farms for new varieties of potatoes.
The Queen Creek Potato Company had endured over the years with the cooperation of many local farmers; shipping more than 400,000 cartons of red and golden table potatoes coast-to-coast each year. Pinto Creek Management, Inc. used a clever marketing spin for their Lost Dutchman Gold potatoes, “Now you can enjoy a treasure of your own. From our farm at the base of the mighty Superstition Mountains we are proud to offer the golden nuggets to you and your family.”
As recently as May 2004, we were all reminded of the upcoming flurry of activity at the potato sheds, and, encouraged to take advantage of their excellent selections of fresh potatoes.
To view some of the old equipment donated by Barney Farms; used for successful potato harvests in the past, visit the outdoor display at the historic Rittenhouse School, home and museum of the San Tan Historical Society.