Neighbors rush to help farmer harvest potatoes threatened by deep freeze in Idaho

Originally published in 2019

The quality of crops and other agricultural products often lie at the mercy of the weather, so when meteorologists predicted a hard freeze in southeast Idaho, farmers swung into action.

As the impending and unexpected arrival of cold weather threatened their crops, the farmers scrambled to harvest all their potatoes. One hapless farmer, however, almost lost everything were it not for his incredibly supportive neighbors.

According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Idaho is the nation’s leading producer of potatoes, delivering 32% of American potatoes.

John Larson

When the sudden cold snap occurred, Travis Blacker, the director of industry relations for the Idaho Potato Commission, related that 15–20% of Idaho’s potatoes were still in the ground.

Most of the farmers had to work 16–18 hours days to get their potatoes, before the frigid air temperatures penetrated deep into the soil.  Snow was falling hard and fast.

However, one farmer in Hamer, Idaho, about 32 miles north of Idaho Falls, was unable to gather all of his crop in time.

Realizing his predicament, his neighbors, working in solidarity with their fellow farmer, sent their workers to save his crop. With trucks loaded with equipment, exhausted workers and farmers didn’t think twice about reaching out to a farmer in need. 

Dozens of members of the community also pitched in to help.  They all showed up just in time as temperatures hit 12 degrees overnight.

John Larson

Jason Larson, a farmer who lived nearby, sent 25 employees to assist in the emergency operations. Around 50 people in total turned out to conduct nine harvests.

Larson witnessed the convoy roaring into the farm with snow churning in the air. He said, “It was just kind of neat to see everyone help. It was pretty cool to help someone in need. There were multiple farmers.”

These same workers had been hard at work the day before on their own farms, clearing their fields until midnight.

With a few hours of rest, the volunteers started work in assisting the farmer in distress, toiling relentlessly from 11:00 am, and completing the emergency harvest by 8:00 pm.

With the crisis averted, it is estimated that the community worked hand in hand to save several hundred thousand dollars’ worth of potatoes.

What people do is they help their neighbor,” Larson said. “There really wasn’t a second thought about it.”

John Larson

Most of the people in the area said that the deep freeze was uncommon, and recalled that such unusually cold weather hadn’t happened this early in the season since the 1980s. Larson added, “This is a story about helping your neighbors. This kind of thing goes on every day across America.”

The early onset of winter was clearly a surprise and caused some panic in the farming community. Fortunately, the sense of camaraderie among neighbors turned things around for one lucky farmer.

Larson’s video, titled “Meanwhile in Idaho,” has since gone viral. “I’m shocked. It was just a simple little fun moment in time. It shows how people want to see good things.”

Watch it below: