Participants gathered at the McPherson Produce family farm for their annual Community Potato Dig in Stevensville, Montana on Oct. 10, 2020. People began digging for potatoes at 10 a.m. and gathered most of the potatoes by noon.

“The community loves this event. Potatoes are cheap but there is something about being in the dirt and picking your own potatoes,” said Jeanie Robbins, née McPherson.

Robbins’ parents bought the farm in 1958 and when they passed away, left it to Robbins’ and her brother, Hans McPherson. Since then, the family invited people pick potatoes every second Saturday in October. 

“In an organized fashion we’ve been doing the Community Potato Dig for 13 years but we’ve been doing it in a smaller fashion since forever,” said Robbins.

Each year, the McPherson’s see new faces but also many familiar ones. Megan Yuhas has been a regular attendee for years.

“We’ve been coming here since my daughter was 18-months-old. It’s a lot of fun and she loves it,” Yuhas said.

This year’s Community Potato Dig marked the first for some. Donna Norton brought her friend Christina McHugh and McHugh's daughter, Gia.

“This is our first year. I saw it on Facebook so I thought I better go do this,” said Norton.

The event is free to the public and participants can take home as many potatoes as they like. Typically, bins would be scattered throughout the field for people to fill with potatoes for the Montana Food Bank. This year, the Montana Food Bank had a surplus of potatoes purchased with government stimulus, so participants had their pick of the lot.

Donuts and coffee were sold to help cover the costs of the Porta Potty and diesel for the tractors. Donations and the remaining money will be donated.

After Hans’ and Jeanie’s parents passed away, they felt it was important to continue having people over to the farm to dig for potatoes. Efforts were made to make the event more organized and the family decided on the second Saturday of every October to host the Community Potato Dig.

“It’s a thrill having this. It’s primarily a tribute for my parents,” Hans McPherson said.