Under deep hay in the insulated pumphouse in my big barn back home is a treasure of sweet potatoes that I grew last year. They are massive, well coloured and delicious and have been growing in the valley for over 30 years. This is how I found them:
I stopped for smokes at a small store in a town down the valley last spring and an aged man with big dirty hands and a cheeky grin was hanging out the front. He looked me up and down and asked me "do you want to see my peanuts". The word was incongruous and I wasn't sure I heard him right, so I excused myself to hear again that indeed it was "peanuts" he wanted to show me (the "T" was obscured in his valley accent) I wavered a moment and then agreed, because he was ancient I guess, and off we went behind the store to a series of small sheds. He insisted I come in, as there was a double door and he didn't want his "peanuts" to get cold. His cheeky grin became diabolical. It was then I noticed the sweet potato slips in pots under lights through a grimy window and I went in with him. Hundreds of peanuts green and a smaller number of sweet potato slips. He has been growing peanuts in the Annapolis Valley for over 70 years, having started them in a school science project and planting them thereafter faithfully every year. The sweet potatoes he had started from tubers he found at a store 30 years ago and it was these massive beauties that interested me. I left laden with a dozen slips. I hope he is still around, because for sure I will be going to see his peanuts this spring. And if the mice or rot have got my sweet spuds lets hope his dirty hands and cheeky grin are still preserving something special indeed.