Get to know us... Islander Gerrit Visser

Gerrit Visser is convinced: "Without a doubt, PEI potatoes taste best." If anyone can make that declaration with confidence, it would be Gerrit. He has been a farmer pretty well all his life, having moved with his family to the Island from Holland in 1954. For the past 24 years the Visser family farm in Orwell Cove has specialized in potatoes, and now sons William and Randy manage the 1800 acres, 600 of which are potatoes.

In Canada, Visser potatoes are sent as far away as British Columbia; about half the crop is sold to US markets. Spring planting usually begins in early May, or as soon as the soil is dry enough to prepare. "I love PEI," says Visser. "It really is ideal farm country; the drainage of the land is excellent." Harvest season begins in summer when farms collect the small, tender "new potatoes" for the fresh local market. Anyone who has had a meal of new PEI potatoes, "jackets on" with lots of butter, will never forget it. Harvest continues into October – large modern machines dig the potatoes and deposit them carefully into trucks which then deliver the crop to the warehouse.

"We get so many favourable comments at our website," says Gerrit. "PEI potatoes have an excellent reputation." To maintain that reputation the Island Food Trust has involved farmers like Visser in environmental farm management practices such as three-year crop rotation, erosion prevention techniques and regular soil monitoring.

The Visser family farm have a website now and ever more complex modern machinery. If you ask Gerrit and his customers, PEI potatoes still taste the best.

Gerrit's Tips

I always suggest the beach to my visiting relatives. My wife and I really enjoy walking and we have visited many of the beautiful beaches around the PEI coast. We found a lovely stretch at the end of St. Peters Harbour Road. And of course I always tell everyone to "Eat PEI potatoes!" Visit the Visser website for lots more recipe ideas!

Classic Mashed Potatoes

3 lbs. (1.5 kg)    PEI Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tsp (5 ml)       salt
1 cup (250 ml)    2% milk, heated
1/4 cup (50 ml)    butter
Add potatoes to 5 cups (1.25 L) boiling salted water in large pot. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until fork tender. Drain. Add hot milk and butter, mash with potato masher. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 6 servings.