GERING — Potatoes are a traditional crop in the valley and each year the Legacy of the Plains Museum plants reds and whites for the public to pick during their annual Harvest Festival. Several years ago, they had a bumper crop. There were many leftover potatoes and they decided to sell them inside the museum once harvest was over. As the season waned, potatoes remained and they started to rot. Volunteers and staff came up with an idea to make sure every last potato went to use in future years.

Last year, a trailer was hitched, loaded with red and white potatoes to make deliveries to places where they could do the most good. On Tuesday, Oct. 9, volunteers Dick Kuxhausen, Bill Vaughn and Kevin Sandberg, along with museum Director Amanda Gibbs gathered together for a second year to make deliveries to several organizations, including the Gering Senior Center, Presbyterian soup kitchen, Scottsbluff Senior Center, Guadalupe Center, Torrington Senior Center, Lakota Center, Carpenter Senior Center and CAPWN.

“We had a surplus three years ago, but they didn’t sell quickly and we also didn’t want to be wasting food,” Gibbs said. “We know they will get eaten and it’s a great way to give back to the community.”

A total of 66 50-pound bags of potatoes were donated to the organizations. At a stop at the Gering Senior Center, head cook Betsy Poor Bear said the delivery of 200 pounds of potatoes will make a big difference.

“One of our main sides is a potato,” Poor Bear said. “We use them all the time.”

The potatoes were a pleasant and unexpected surprise for every organization.

“These will last us about a month to a month-and-a-half,” Poor Bear said. “This is greatly appreciated.”

The red and white potatoes are planted each year by volunteers. Whatever is now left over will not go to waste.

During the festival, old machinery is used for harvesting so the public can see how difficult farming was, but after the festival every resource available is used.

“We do some sharecropping with a family and they come over and help us with the harvesting,” Gibbs said.

Irene North is a staff reporter at the Star-Herald. Contact her at 308-632-9041 or by email at irene.north@starherald.com.

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