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Quebec family-run potato farm bags 160,000 pounds of spuds by hand during COVID-19 pandemic

Coteau-du-Lac potato farm trying to recoup losses
WATCH: A Coteau-du-Lac family farm is trying to make some money amidst the COVID-19 crisis. With the need for potatoes and potato products significantly lower, the family is relying on the community to help boost their profits. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines has the story.

Members of the Thomas and Delforge family farm have been forced to bag more than 160,000 pounds of potatoes — by hand.

The family farm located in Coteau-du-Lac, a city 40 minutes west of Montreal, is a major producer for regional food suppliers.

It churns out some 2,500 tons of potatoes a year for companies which then transform them into french fries and other delicacies for the restaurant industry.

The economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has lowered demand for potatoes, bringing the industry to a halt. That has left farmers like Jack Thomas with mountains of unsold produce.

“This is our profits, ” Thomas said.

“We have invested in this produce since 2018.”

READ MORE: ‘Eat fries twice a week’: Belgians urged to help with potato pile-up

Despite the setback, Thomas and his wife Ange-Marie Delforge have adapted their operations to save their produce and their bottom line.

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The married couple, who has owned the farm for 30 years, have started bagging the potatoes and selling them from their property.

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“It is not an easy feat,” without the proper equipment, Delforge said.

The family has been bagging the spuds by hand, filling the 50-pound bags.

“It’s not too heavy it’s only 50 pounds but when you have hundreds a day it’s hard,” son Michael Thomas said.

The family produces about 100 to 125 bags a day and sells them for $15 a pouch at a kiosk at the entrance of their farm.

So far some 70,000 pounds worth of the apples of the earth have been sold, with another 80,000 remaining.

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Despite the financial struggles, the family has donated $500 so far to the Lakeshore Hospital.

“We thought it was a good idea to help the community that is currently helping us,” Delforge said.

Delforge says while they are hurting so too are others. “During these times  we have to support one and another.”

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Delforge has pledged to also donate some of the proceeds to the Suroit Hospital in Valleyfield