Harvest Break in Aroostook County

Holiday break, spring vacation week – you know about those. In Maine’s Aroostook County, there’s another item on the school calendar: Harvest Break.

Hoisting wooden barrels of potatoes on to the truck.
Photo credit: WCVB Channel 5

The Bondeson Farm in New Sweden is one of the last potato farms (if not the last) to use hand pickers. Bondeston switched to mechanized harvesters for a couple years but ended up switching back to hand pickers. Bondeson says the quality is better (less bruising) with hand pickers and it’s more fun! Each day the picking crews make fires in the fields and cook lunch.

Harvesting potatoes on the Sven Bondeson farm in New Sweden, Maine
Photo credit: WCVB Channel 5

Kids spend eight hour days hand picking potatoes into baskets which they dump into large wooden barrels. Each barrel filled earns them $2.50. The money is often spent on necessities like clothes for school.

I Survived Picking Potatoes in Maine Mug