Harvest break is an important and crucial part of the year. After all, Idaho is known for their famous potatoes. This seed farm at the Parkinson’s in St. Anthony, has 27 hundred acres of potatoes.
Farmers put a lot of work into harvest break and have several people helping them out like high school students, but how do they contribute?
Rye Mortensen is a student at Sugar-Salem high school. He’s 17-years-old and has been helping the Parkinson’s at their farm for 2 years when the potato harvest season rolls in right about in the month of September and early October.
“I drive a truck. Right there is my truck, number 11 right there. That’s what I do the whole time,” said Rye Mortensen, student at Sugar-Salem high school.
Rye says he gets early at 7:30 a.m. to start driving the potato truck for spuds. He ends his day right around 11 or 11:30 p.m.
That’s about a 16-hour workday.
“You know, it’s the money, the money, but you know, getting ties in with these Parkinson’s, you know it always helps, but you know if you’ve ever needed a job come spring time or summer, you could give them a call and if they know ya, they might put ya to work,” said Rye.
Last year, Rye made around 22 hundred dollars just for working about 2 to 3 weeks for spud harvest. This year, he’s expected to make a little over that amount.
“I think it’s a really good idea. It get’s them out of the house, it gives them an opportunity to work and make some money,” said Jud Parkinson, son and farmer of Parkinson Seed Farm family business.
This is Bubba Boots. He’s from South Fremont high school and has been working for 3 years with the spud harvest. He is 16-years-old.
“You just go out there and the digger will load your truck with potatoes and then you come back here and unload,” said Bubba Boots, South Fremont high school student.
Of course, each student has their own schedule with school activities. But how does that factor in with harvest break?
“I rodeo and wrestle but they’re really not like interfering with this so it’s not too big of a deal for me,” said Bubba.
Jud Parkinson, one of the sons of the head of the farm, says each high school student is sure to be trained beforehand.
“We just put them in a truck with somebody whose done it before and just train them and they ride with them a cole of times and we just let them drive it. There’s only so much you can teach somebody and then they just kind of need to figure some stuff out on their own because everybody does it differently,” said Jud.
Bubba works 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday.
Like Rye, Bubba is expected to make anywhere from 22 hundred to 25 hundred dollars this year.
Weather does factor in to these working days too. Sometimes, all the workers have to start late in the day. You can’t dig the potatoes when it’s cold and frosted outside. But why?
“They freeze and then they disintegrate and then they just like melt basically,” said Jud.
Here’s how to get these potatoes. There are machines called crossovers that take the spuds out of the earth. The high school students take the potato trucks a cole miles down the road and fill them with as many potatoes as possible.
After that, the spuds are put onto conveyer belts where they are disinfected and sorted. They then go into a white cellar for the winter.
Even though it’s a lot of work by getting these potatoes, Rye and Bubba, say they are grateful.
“It’s long but it’s worth it,” said Bubba.
“You know, it’s a good experience. It’s a really good experience. It’s something that you can put on a resume,” said Rye.