Lacerda's Farm / CJ's Pond View Farm in Portsmouth, RI gap certified
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Portsmouth, RI - Joseph F. Lacerda, Jr. runs Lacerda’s Farm, in the family for years since Joseph’s grandparents started the farm in 1923. Workhorses were used back then, as tractors were not in existence. The farm started out primarily as a dairy farm with cows roaming the fields and a Bull thrown in for good measure. The family also raised and slaughtered pigs and chickens, and had a greenhouse where they grew veggies including potatoes. It was very hard but rewarding work. During the 1960s, Joe Sr. started to take over the farm from his parents and started shifting the farm to grow potatoes. Joe’s family used to raise and grow everything on their farm. Today, with over 120 acres, they have focused on a few choice crops, potatoes, pumpkins and corn.
Times have changed, too. The most obvious change is the scenery. The landscape on Aquidneck Island used to be all open. Development is encroaching everywhere. A golf course across the street, housing developments popping up left and right. The soils and microclimate of Aquidneck are excellent for growing potatoes but today are just three potato farms left on the island.
Out in the field, the mechanized potato harvester, a beauty from the 1960’s “they sure don’t make em’ like that anymore!” starts to scoop up the potatoes. The potatoes then make their way to the top of the harvester where two workers hand sort the good from the bad. After weeding out rocks, they toss the good potatoes into a wagon that has been driving along side of the harvester. The tractor then makes its way up to the barn where the potatoes are sorted again, washed and dried and then weighed and bagged. The potatoes are sold to processors, Rhode Island and Massachusetts schools, and nearby grocery stores. There are even regular customers who stop by the farm for their weekly 5 pound bag of potatoes!
Come October, the farm will be filled with customers enjoying time outside in the fields picking out the perfect pumpkins. The storage barn, however, will be filled to the rafters with potatoes! Lacerda’s potatoes are nestled in the dark under prime conditions. Their texture and flavor will do well in the barn with well-crafted duct work, and insulated walls and floors to ensure proper air circulation, humidity and temperature (50-55 degrees).
When asked why he keeps farming, Joe Lacerda says, “For one, you can’t beat the view. When the leaves start to fall off the trees as the seasons change, you can see the pond behind the farm. We start our day bright and early at 4am and keep going till dusk or later. We get to watch the sun rise and listen to the birds before the tractor and harvester start up to unearth the potatoes that have been growing all season.”
Five generations of Joseph Lacerdas have worked this farmland, and in addition to the lifestyle, the work has created very flavorful rewards. Joe tastes the fruits of his labor and knows his potatoes are superior to any you'll find elsewhere. This variety of potatoes is very creamy and very versatile. In almost any form, they add rich, comforting flavors to any meal. For the record, Joe enjoys his best as French fries!