It’s potato season in Lehigh Valley, and Twin Maple Farms owner Gary Hunsicker has planted more than enough Lehigh Valley Gold potatoes to be harvested – some of which will soon arrive to the dining halls at Lafayette College.
Campus Executive Chef John Soder has been getting this specific brand of potatoes from Twin Maple Farms for three years.
“Every time there’s a breakfast potato, french fries from Lower [Farinon], every potato chip from Gilbert’s, every roasted potato, mashed potato, anywhere you see potatoes on campus is all from them,” Soder said.
Hunsicker is a third generation farmer, running the potato farm with his sons and nephews that his grandfather started back in 1938. Hunsicker said he hopes they will one day want to carry on the family farm.
“We’re a totally conventional farm, so when they talk sustainability, we’re third and fourth generation,” Hunsicker said. “So what’s more sustainable than that?”
Twin Maple Farms is located in Bath, Penn. in Northampton County – less than 20 miles from campus – and is one of only three commercial potato producers left in the county, according to its website. Although potatoes are their main crop, they also produce a variety of grains and vegetables year-round.
Because of this, the Hunsicker family is always busy and, depending on the season, workdays range anywhere from eight hours to almost the entire day.
“Every season is different, and almost every day is different, and we just do what needs to be done,” Hunsicker said.
Twin Maple Farms also sells their produce and grains at three farmers’ markets, one of the three being the one in Easton on Saturday mornings. This is also the morning Lafayette gets its weekly delivery of seven 50-pound bags of potatoes from Twin Maple Farms, according to Soder.
Hunsicker said Twin Maple Farms and Lafayette connected with one another through a program called “Buy Fresh, Buy Local,” which unites local farms with other local restaurants and businesses.
Soder, who has worked with local farms since he started at Lafayette in 2008, is a strong advocate for the use of local products.
“It’s fresh food,” he said. “It’s local food. It’s seasonal food. Almost always when they deliver stuff for us, from any farm, it was picked that morning or the day before. Sometime’s it’s even still warm from the sun.”
The relationship with Twin Maple Farms, according to Hunsicker and Soder, is one worth continuing.
“[Soder] works with us very well,” Hunsicker said. “He’s really trying to get local produce into the college, and he’s made it very easy for us. He works around our schedule and we try to do the same.”
Flexibility and communication have both helped make this relationship continue. According to Soder, the first year Lafayette got potatoes from Twin Maple Farms, the supply ran out by late April.
“The second year, [however], they planted more just for us, and we made it all the way up until the end, and this year looks to be the same,” Soder said.
Twin Maple Farms’ relationship with Lafayette seems to be as sustainable as their farming.
“They’re close to the school, they’re great people, and they can fulfill the volume that we need,” Soder said.