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Produce Business

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A Visit To Tallman Family Farms

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, August 8, 2007

In our piece, Unhealthy Restaurant Salads, we mentioned that the Pundit family was on a tour of theme parks in Pennsylvania, including Hersheypark, Dutch Wonderland and Sesame Street Place. That letter brought a note from a reader we have never had the pleasure to meet:

Dear Mr. & Mrs. Pundit and Junior Pundits:

We welcome you to our beautiful state of Pennsylvania and are so happy you chose to bring your family to Central PA!

We receive your Perishable Pundit, and your excellent articles have enhanced our potato business in many ways.

If you and your Junior Pundits have a few moments to spare, we would like to invite you to tour our potato farm and packing shed. We are only 35 miles from Hershey, just off of Interstate 81. You can take a quick peek at our farm on www.tallmanpotatoes.com.

We know your schedule is busy; but the Tallman family would love to share our Pennsylvania farm with your family. We might even suggest an extremely interesting tour of the Pioneer Tunnel in Ashland, PA, if you would like to take the Junior pundits inside a true anthracite coal mine and give them a “Lokey” ride with a view of a true “environmental disaster” in Centralia, PA (the underground mine fire) that Pennsylvania has been fighting for many years.

Please give us a call or send an e-mail and we would be thrilled to give you a tour!

— Nathan W. Tallman
Tallman Family Farms, LLC
Tower City, Pennsylvania

Well we took the Tallman’s up on their kind invitation and went to visit and show the Jr. Pundits a farm.

Unfortunately, Nathan was out of town by the time we got there, but we were greeted by an assortment of family members, including Virginia “Ginny” Morton, Nathan’s Aunt.

We toured the packing house, saw an impressive new irrigation system, the boys dug for potatoes, fed a horse an apple, the boys each went for a ride in an 18-wheeler, and Ginny’s husband, Larry, took each boy on a four-wheeler through the forest. The boys even got to do an early picking on some pumpkins.

Bill, George, Joe and Sue Tallman each led our tour and took the boys on different activities. All together the Tallman family shared with us a country lunch of hamburgers, hot dogs, bratwurst, all served with fresh grown sweet corn and, of course, the house specialty: French fries prepared with the Tallman’s trademarked: Tallman’s Special Frying Potatoes.

It is hard to say what we enjoyed more, the generous hospitality or the wonderfully fresh and delicious food. We certainly appreciated the opportunity to show the Junior Pundits what life on a farm is really like.

The Tallman Farm was first established in 1860 and has been specializing in potatoes since 1939. Today, the farm covers about 1,000 acres. Plus the family markets for other potato growers. It is a very impressive operation.

Sometimes the large-scale western producers so overwhelm other producers they can be forgotten, but whatever the Tallman operation may lack in size or yield compared to the big producers out west, they make up for in proximity to market. With every retailer searching for locally grown product, the future seems bright.

It is a drought year and that is not good, but the Tallman’s have irrigation so they can apply water where it will be most effective. They are obviously not applying water to minor crops, such as pumpkins, to save it for the potatoes.

We played “Produce Geography” for five minutes and came up with many mutual friends, such as Harris Cutler of Race-West Corporation, who has frequently contributed to the Pundit, and Joe Pellicone of D’Arrigo Bros. Company of New York, who worked with the Pundit Poppa for many years.

The time came for us to move on, and we felt like we had made some new friends and the Junior Pundits had a memory that would last a lifetime. It reminded us of why we so enjoy this industry.

Much of the progressive force of the company is Nathan, who at 29 is leading the next generation. He just bought a farm in the William’s Valley where the rest of the operation is located. We missed him this trip but look forward to seeing him at PMA.

His Aunt Ginny tells us he is smart, hard working and good looking — she also was wondering if we knew any nice women interested in dating such a catch. If you know someone who likes the rural life but within easy range of the big city and is looking for a good guy… send us a note here. The first dinner is on the Pundit.

Many thanks to the Tallman family for their “produce” hospitality.

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