Potato Grower

August 2016/IGSA

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WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 19 Over the last 130 years or so, six generations of the Sutton family have raised families and crops on the fertile ground of eastern Idaho's Rexburg Bench. They were among the first pioneer families to settle the area. And in 500 years, when the rest of humanity is leaving Earth for greener pastures on, say, Neptune, Suttons will probably still be living on the Bench, growing potatoes and steadfastly refusing to leave the place they love. For now, though, Eric Sutton doesn't have to worry about that. He is happy to be exactly where he is, doing precisely what he was born to do. "This is a really nice area," Sutton says as he surveys one of his potato fields from his pickup. This particular field has a spectacular view to the north and east of the city of Rexburg and, beyond it, the famed St. Anthony Sand Dunes. "This is all a lot of work, but you get to be outside and enjoy the area and the beauty and watch things grow." Sutton has always had that appreciation for farming—not only the profession, but the life it entails as well. As a kid, he was constantly in the fields with his father, Garth, and he could never quite envision himself doing anything else. The soil, the crops, the wind, the machinery, the neighbors—it all resonated with Sutton, and he just couldn't picture himself leaving and doing something else. "I've always been here; this area was always home," he says. "This was the plan. Even when I didn't really know what I was doing, I always wanted to be here." So he stayed. He eventually worked his way up to becoming a partner and part-owner of the farm with his dad and three brothers, Shane, Rick and Josh. As the years went by, though, Eric realized that, in spite of everyone's best intentions, the organization of the family farm would ultimately need to see a little change in order to survive for future generations. When the 2016 growing season began, Eric Sutton was running his own operation. Today, Sutton farms some 1,100 total acres, with 270 acres dedicated to Russet Burbank potatoes, all bound for local fresh- pack sheds. Going forward, he hopes to increase his potato acreage to around 500. Obviously, family is still farming right next door, but Sutton acknowledges that there are a few new elements to being on his own. Eric Sutton enjoys much of the same picturesque scenery while he works that his ancestors did more than a century ago. Sutton calls himself blessed to be able to do what he loves in an area he's always called home. WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 19

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