Super Tuber farmer finds niche in specialization
Special to The Union
Farmer Jeremy Mineau has carved a niche for his business, Super Tuber Farm.
Instead of growing a large variety of crops like many small vegetable farmers, Mineau focuses his time growing a handful of old favorites: potatoes, sweet corn, carrots and mixed salad greens.
“I like producing foods that are familiar to people,” said Mineau, who enjoys introducing and sparking an interest for exceptionally tasty, carefully grown vegetables as humble as potatoes and carrots to someone who isn’t a “higher class foodie.”
“I really like growing produce where people can tell a difference from mine and the grocery store,” Mineau said.
Mineau started his own farm in 2012, growing potatoes on three-quarters of an acre he leased in Nevada City at Bluebird Farm. At the time, Mineau was still working four days a week at Mountain Bounty Farm where he learned his farming skills from John Tecklin and a large workforce of young interns and volunteers.
With his time overlapping between two farms and limited time for maintenance, potatoes seemed the ideal crop to grow his first time-strapped year.
“I thought I would specialize in a couple crops I could do well rather than spread myself too thin. It’s tempting and romantic to try to grow everything,” said Mineau.
The plan seems to be working.
His one-man operation with the help of a few friends has grown to three cultivated acres in Penn Valley at AM Ranch, a plot of land formerly grazed by Rancher Matthew Shapero of Buckeye Ranch and two on Rock Creek Road in Nevada City.
This year nearly 20,000 ears of sweet corn were harvested along with more than seven tons (14,000 pounds) of potatoes, so far. Another four tons (8,000 pounds) of potatoes will be harvested later this fall.
Mineau grows five different potato varieties: Yukon gold, Colorado rose, Russet, French fingerling and Blue. He grows the spuds in two rounds — a March planting with harvest beginning in June and a late May planting for harvest now through January.
“There will be lots of Thanksgiving potatoes,” Mineau said.
He’ll have potatoes for sale through the winter.
Someday, Mineau hopes to invest in the infrastructure that will allow him to grow greens and other cold season crops through the lean months.
Mineau’s veggies are appealing to local wholesale buyers: BriarPatch Co-op, both SPD markets, California Organics and local restaurants like Ike’s and New Moon and Three Forks Bakery and Brewing Co. Up the hill, Mineau sells to restaurants and natural food stores in Truckee and Tahoe through the Tahoe Food Hub.
On Saturday mornings, you’ll find him at the downtown Nevada City Farmers Market.
For folks concerned about “mangled genetics and big agribusiness,” Mineau’s sweet corn is anything but that and offers a comforting alternative.
“People have been raving about the sweet corn this year. It’s been really exciting,” said Mineau.
Mineau likes to put his artistry into play when he works with salad greens. He enjoys finding the right blend of “flavor, crunch and pizzazz.”
Sierra Harvest recently featured Mineau during the group’s ongoing Farm Potluck series. Among a younger population of farmers in the region, with five years now under his belt, Mineau can be considered one of the veteran “greenhorns.”
For him, the satisfaction of producing goods from the soil is something he’s happy to commit to.
“I really enjoy working outside, working with my hands and being my own boss,” he said.
Learn more at: https://www.facebook.com/supertuberfarm.
Contact freelance writer Laura Petersen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-913-3067.
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