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The Gibson Potato Farm in Springwater NY

Article contributed by Patricia Willsea.

Click any image to enlarge.

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Roy Gibson of Gibson Farms of Springwater NY in 2003.

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At the Gibson Potato farm in Springwater NY in 1952.

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At the Gibson Potato farm in Springwater NY in 1952.

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At the Gibson Potato farm in Springwater NY in 1952.

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At the Gibson Potato farm in Springwater NY in 1952.

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At the Gibson Potato farm in Springwater NY in 1995.

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At the Gibson Potato farm in Springwater NY in 1995.

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At the Gibson Potato farm in Springwater NY in 2000.

A History of the Gibson Potato Farm

of Springwater NY

By Shirley and Roy Gibson in 2003

My interest in growing potatoes was whetted in the early 40’s by our local 4-H club.

My first crop of potatoes was in 1947, about 3 acres. Afterwards for a few years I grew potatoes on shares in various locations.

In 1950 my parents, Gordon and Sadie, moved to the village of Wayland and I stayed behind on the home farm. In 1951 I married my childhood sweet heart, Shirley Wixon and we purchased the home farm.

Shortly after we were able to cash rent about 250 acres of good valley land between Bowles Corner and North Cohocton. We farmed this land as well as leased land in East Springwater for a few more years. As other affordable good land near the home farm came up for sale, we purchased it.

Our family of three girls and one boy was now underway.

In the early 60’s the harvest of potatoes changed from hand picking by large migrant crews to machine harvest with much smaller crews. However, we still maintained our labor camp through the years with a much smaller crew for the harvest.

The potatoes we were producing then were all specifically grown for the potato chip market. These potatoes were all graded and loaded bulk into tractor trailers at the farm for delivery to potato chip plants.

By the late 60’s we were producing potatoes under contract exclusively for Frito Lay. This continued for over thirty years. From 1995 on all potatoes were also washed as loaded bulk on trailers for delivery to the chip plants.

In the meantime, we constructed on the home farm environmentally controlled bulk potato storages, machinery repair shop, machine storage buildings, labor camps, etc. Also we purchased good potato land within a five mile radius of home farm and made improvements as necessary. Total acreage ended up about 2000 acres of which about 1000 is cropland.

Also in the 50’s we planted many thousands of conifer trees on land not useable for potatoes. Then in the 80’s we planted thousands of Douglas Fir transplants. We are leaving about 125 trees to acre, after Christmas tree harvest, to grow into future forest.

We have been fortunate over the years to have dedicated long term employees, one for over forty three years.

In 2002 we retired from growing potatoes. The farm is now leased to some excellent bean, potato and dairy farmers in the immediate area.

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