Formed in 2004 by Curzio Caravati, the Kenosha Potato Project unites people who are interested in breeding, growing, and/or researching potatoes and provides a communication platform through Facebook for its’ 2000+ members . As a member of Seed Savers Exchange, Curzio noticed that one member, Will Bonsall in Maine, was the sole curator of over 400 varieties of potato. Thinking one day Will may lose his collection and all his work could vanish, Curzio’s original thought was to duplicate Will’s collection with the help of local gardeners in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A few years later, the local network of gardeners fell apart as these gardeners began to eat all the proceeds and failed to return seed for replanting. Since then Curzio has reached out to growers through Facebook (Kenosha Potato Project) and this website, Kenoshapotato.com, connecting with both national and international gardeners and produce growers. With the most recent member residing in Sierra Leone, Western Africa, 84+ countries are represented with 2000+ members who communicate through the Kenosha Potato Project Facebook page, sharing data and information on growing and breeding thousands of potato varieties. These members include back yard enthusiasts, community gardeners, small farmers, hobby breeders, university and private researchers, The International Potato Genebank in Sturgeon Bay and professional breeders such as Tom Wagner.
In addition to overseeing the Kenosha Potato Project’s Facebook page, Curzio is the curator of over 300 varieties of potato that he grows in container bags on his two acre gentleman’s urban farm in Kenosha County. His current focus is to demonstrate that potatoes can be grown in micro plots and that high yields can be achieved growing in containers. Curzio’s research looks into potato varieties that produce well in vertical growth vs horizontal. Curzio hopes to benefit the Urban Agriculturist in cities with high density populations that lack the infrastructure to obtain enough food to feed its populace, such as the more than 30 million people in the three largest cities of Nigeria. The Kenosha Potato Project looks forward to adding and supporting more members and mentoring young gardeners to continue in urban agriculture. Curzio believes strongly that “you don’t need to own a lot of land to become a potato breeder”, and you don’t need a lot of land to feed a city of people.
Feeding the nation is a high priority career that begins in your own backyard or even small patio. Tubers are planted to obtain an exact genetic duplicate of a given variety. Tubers also produce flowers and fruit, a berry that contains seeds. Each seed is a unique genetic variety from the mother plant and the pollen from either the mother plant or another flowering potato tuber. Through controlled pollination, breeders can achieve potato varieties that are more resistant to blight, intense heat, certain insects, have more antioxidants, higher protein values, and less sugars. By open pollination of Bumblebees, other insects and the wind, Mother Nature produces an unending variety to choose from. The continued success of our food production relies on a wide selection of available varieties to interbreed and research. Members of the Kenosha Potato Project help ensure that noncommercial potato varieties not only exist, but thrive all over the world. Curzio is proud to be able to exchange/sell both potato tubers and TPS (true potato seed) listed through Seed Savers Exchange.