Dad would drive his old red Massey Ferguson up and down rows which seemed to stretch on forever. He had a strange clawed contraption on the back of the tractor that would lift and turn the plants leaving furrows of soft soil. Then my mum, my middle sister and I would scrabble around for the spuds.
I can’t recall if we just lifted and sorted them, or if we bagged them up. But I do remember the smooth round firmness of the potatoes and how perfectly they seemed to fit my hands. The sun was always warm on the backs of our necks and the soil was cool. I must have been eight or younger as my little sister was never there. But even as a young child the experience felt somehow calming and restorative. Perhaps there is something about being outdoors with your hands in the soil that appeals to people at a primal level.
That was almost 30 years ago. Soon after, my parents were forced to give up market gardening and focus on growing ornamental plants as the UK began importing cheap mass-produced veg from overseas. Funny how things have gone full circle now.
Last weekend, we harvested the remaining bed of potatoes in our garden. Watching M enthusiastically joining in made me feel glad that we may be creating similar memories for her, albeit on a smaller scale.