The Finest Potatoes Ever Known

Photo of Judge William Blackburn's grave at Evergreen Cemetery

Photo of Judge William Blackburn's grave at Evergreen Cemetery

In honor of Dia de los Muertos, Curated Feast decorated the grave of the Santa Cruz farmer who grew "the finest potatoes ever known". ๐ŸŒฟ๐Ÿ‘‘

The farmer's name was Judge William Blackburn. He had served as the "alcalde" for this region (basically a judge and mayor in California's Mexican era), until California joined the union in September 1850.

In 1851, he planted potatoes at his homestead near Main Beach, where the Santa Cruz Boardwalk is today. Blackburn planted his first potato crop in response to speculation of market demand from the miners of the Gold Rush. They wanted shelf stable and filling foods, and potatoes surely fit the bill.

Blackburn had an impressive first harvest from those sandy loam soils. He had high profits per acre and even higher remarks from eaters.

Blackburn was so confident in his crop that he sent samples of his potatoes to the 1853 Crystal Palace Fair in New York. There, they were noted as โ€œthe finest potatoes ever known,โ€ ๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ“ฐ firming-up Santa Cruzโ€™ fame as an agricultural region, but also โ€œdemonstrating to the East the capabilities of California to raise her own food."โ˜€๏ธ

While Santa Cruz is a small county, it has been a player in the world food system from early on. The rich soils and temperate climate produce competitive yields and crops of superior quality that have been shipped across the country and around the world. ๐Ÿš‚ Blackburn was one of the earliest players to put Santa Cruz County agriculture on the map! ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ

Liz PearComment