Dirt Pic: Move over Georgia, here come North Country peanuts


Bob Washo of littleGrasse Foodworks in Canton grows peanuts mostly for fun, as a novelty. It would take a lot more than this little row to fill bags of peanuts at the ballpark. Photo: David Sommerstein.

Dirt Pics is an ongoing series telling the story of agriculture and farmers one photo at a time. Send a photo of your farm, product, field, market stand, or any other aspect of farming – hopefully with a person or people in the picture – to david-at-ncpr-dot-org. Please be sure to include full names and a caption that tells the story of what's happening in the photo.

You'll find a lot of advice out there about how to grow peanuts north of the Peanut Belt. But there's a problem: most varieties mature in no fewer than 100 days, usually closer to 120 days. That's a stretch for northern New York's short summers.

Farmer and CSA owner Bob Washo of littleGrasse Foodworks in Canton heard about a 90 day variety of the Valencia peanut being grown in Canada. He got some seeds (basically, peanuts) and planted.

North Country peanuts! Photo: David Sommerstein.

North Country peanuts! Photo: David Sommerstein.

The results are supercool. They grow like a potato or other legume – big leafy stalks above ground, peanuts under the soil. You can dry the peanuts to roast or boil, or you can save them over the winter, then plant them in the spring after the threat of frost is gone.

In the picture above, the peanut plants are the row to the left of the white cover. As Bob pulled a handful out of the earth this morning, all I could think was, "man, it must take a TON of these plants to make the peanut butter I'm begging my daughter to eat."

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  1. The main reason we grow peanuts (and popcorn)beside getting to eat them ourselves, is to educate and illustrate just how large a foot print our modern diet takes up on the land. Kind of mind blowing when you attach square footage to a typical american meal and or snack. Thanks David for immediately connecting those dots!

  2. Ah, but each little seed can produce 20 to 50 peanuts, and the rest of the plant can be used as feed for livestock.

  3. Yes, plants like peanuts require some space, but put it in perspective…with little more than a seed, some rain, and sunshine, protein is created. Even a chicken would have trouble pulling that one off.

    • Perspective is important. The point I was attempting to make was that unlike chicken and bread for that fact, you can not look at those food stuffs and make a direct correlation between how much we consume and their footprint in the field. I like to think of peanuts and popcorn as a gateway into a larger conversation about those foods that take up more resources than meets the eye. Livestock is certainly at the top of that list.