Ak-Chin Farms harvest includes potatoes for local snack market
If you like potato chips, you might be surprised to learn that your snack could have originated right here in Maricopa, AZ! The Ak-Chin Farms grows multiple crops, including potatoes for local snack manufacturers Frito Lay and Poore Brothers.
The Ak-Chin Farms currently fills 1,450 acres with potato crops grown specifically for the potato chip market, and harvests these crops in late May through the end of June or early July. After the potatoes are collected, they’re prepared for Frito-Lay in Casa Grande and the Poore Brothers facility in Goodyear.
Part of the preparation includes taking potatoes to the R & G Potato Company plant located on the Ak-Chin Indian Community for washing. R & G Potatoes employs about 15 to 20 employees for the potato washing season.
Talk about fresh food — within about 15 to 20 minutes of coming from the field, the potatoes from the Ak-Chin Indian Community Farm are on their way to a processing plant, said farm manager Steve Coester in an article published in Pinal Central. He estimates that within 24 hours after leaving the field, many of the potatoes have already become chips.
Ak-Chin Farms used to focus mainly on cotton crops. Several years ago, the farm manager was approached by a broker to gauge interest in producing potatoes, according to the Pinal Central article. This is due to the area’s warm climate and mild winter and spring seasons, resulting in an earlier potato harvest compared to other parts of the country. The farm started slowly and grew to its current crop size of about 300 tons of potatoes annually — enough to fill 1,000 semi-trucks! Today, Ak-Chin Farms also grows pecans, alfalfa, and corn, in addition to potatoes and cotton.
The next time you’re enjoying potato chips, you might be snacking on spuds originating from the Ak-Chin Indian Community!