The potato and the industry that surrounds it has become more than just a cash crop that is produced in abundance here on Prince Edward Island. For nearly a century, the potato has been part of many Islanders’ lives. It was a staple of life on small family farms, providing great nutritional value and a crop that could be relied upon year-after-year with proper management. For others, the potato industry represents a lifetime of work that was as fulfilling as any career. The industry provided an opportunity for Islander’s to maintain their independence and pride. And for others, the potato was a symbol that invoked pride in the province and region. Like the cod industry for Newfoundland or the oil industry for Alberta, the potato unified and gave a strong foundation for other industries to survive and prosper in Prince Edward Island.
The industry has met many challenges over the past few decades, including border closures, changing markets, devastating diseases and conservation issues. Through these challenges have come many changes to the face of the industry such as a greater emphasis on processing and a struggling seed sector. These changes that appear to spell disaster for the industry have been met with determination. Every aspect of the important industry has gone through some degree of change. Mechanization has changed the physical harvest and modernization has changed the markets that Island farmers are able to supply. With time comes change and it is that change that the Island Potato industry has been struggling through for the past several years.