Garrison named Maine Potato Board’s Young Farmer of the Year

15 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE – The Maine Potato Board recently named Gregg Garrison of Blaine as the 2009 Young Farmer of the Year. Garrison and his father, Wayne, own and operate Double G Farms, where they grow 600 acres of processing potatoes and 600 acres of rotational crops in fields scattered from Bridgewater to Fort Fairfield.
    Garrison began farming when he was 8 years old, working alongside his parents, Wayne and Jacqueline Garrison, and his two sisters, Andrea and Tracey. His father taught him what he considers his most valuable lessons when it comes to success in agriculture: Take care of the land, be open to change, embrace innovation, and say “Yes” to opportunities that present themselves.
    As for the first, Garrison emphasizes every farmer’s role in being a steward of the land.
    “This goes along with sustainability,” he said. “It’s a concept being talked about a lot today, but it’s something we’ve been doing for generations.”
    Garrison learned early on that rotating his crop every year and resting 25 percent of his land for two years leads to a healthier growing environment, higher yields and better quality. It’s a win-win for the earth and for the potato industry.
    While some farming practices like caring for the land never change, others do – often drastically thanks to innovation in farming. Garrison emphasized the importance of stepping out and trying new technologies. One example of his doing so dates back to 1999, the year in which Garrison was among the first Maine growers to build a potato storage with a ventilated system using a humicell that automatically regulates humidity levels.
    For a farm that stores 70 percent of its potatoes from harvest season until the following summer, this had a huge positive impact.
    “Today, I monitor our storages right from my office; I don’t even need to step outside,” said Garrison. “Everything is computerized … sophisticated. Running a farm is not what it used to be.”
    Recognizing this, Garrison complemented his hands-on farming experience with a four-year bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Maine at Presque Isle. This choice pays off every day.
    “There’s so much riding on every decision,” said Garrison. “The more knowledge, resources, tools and people we have to help make decisions, the more likely we are to do things right.”
    Behind all of the technology and education, however, remains the two things Garrison loves most about farming: the harvest and working as a family unit with his father, his wife, Heidi, and his four children, Olivia, Spencer, Chandler and Sydney.
    “I love planting a seed in the spring, seeing it through, and then reaping the results in the fall,” said Garrison. “And, I would love it if my children would have a future in agriculture.”
    The Maine Potato Board named Garrison “Young Farmer of the Year” based on a nomination process focused on his leadership potential, as well as his success in and positive impact on the community.
    “Gregg has already contributed in a big way to our state’s potato industry,” said Tim Hobbs, director of development and grower relations for the Maine Potato Board. “We look forward to getting him more involved at both the local and national level.”
    Garrison serves on the Maine Potato Board’s Processing Growers Executive Council and the PMIF Project Review Committee. He achieved his American Farmer Degree as a member of the National Future Farmers of America. Garrison also has made McCain Foods’ Top 10 Grower List four times in the past decade.
    There are about 380 potato growers in Maine, from Aroostook County to the western mountain region around Bethel and Fryeburg. The total impact of the potato industry on the state’s economy is $540 million in sales, 6,100 jobs, over $230 million in personal income, and over $32 million in state and local taxes. For more information visit