Last week we went back to our Burbank roots and visited the home of Luther Burbank in Sonoma County, CA! Burbank developed his hybrid potato back in 1872 in his garden in Massachusetts by cross-breeding different potato varieties to create his desired outcome. The Burbank potato is the “father potato” of the Idaho Russet which is a descendant of this variety. After developing the Burbank, he sold his seeds to a local grower and moved out to Santa Rosa, CA to develop more plants! He truly believed that Santa Rosa was the best climate to grow and develop his new plants in, and is known to have created over 800 plants! Among the Burbank potato, he created the shasta daisy and a cactus with no spines to name a few. For more great history, click here. Without Burbank, we wouldn’t be where we are today so it was an honor to visit his hometown!
We spent two days in Sonoma County and the first was in Santa Rosa at Luther Burbank Home & Gardens. At the gardens, we were able to see some of the plants that he had created and took a tour inside the home he used to live in! There was also a little gift shop and a museum on site as well. At the event, there were potato activities for the kids including potato art and a scavenger hunt! We also had a signature board supporting LBH&G that fans signed! We had TONS of visitors, including one super-fan named Richard from London, England. Richard has been following us for a few years, and absolutely loves quirky roadside America! He saw that there was a giant potato structure in Blackfoot, ID at the potato museum and then was amazed when he learned about our traveling spud. He changed around his trip to the states to meet up with us in Santa Rosa and it was so great meeting him. He has probably traveled the farthest out of any one of our fans to come see us! It was an absolute honor, and we gave him a VIP tour of the tater and hooked him up with #bigidahopotato swag. Learn more about his story by clicking here.
Along with Richard, we had another visitor from northern California named Janice Dabney who wrote a book called “The Comforts of Potatoes”. It is made up of small poems all about potatoes! She brought her book and even read it on Channel 7 ABC news in San Fransisco! We loved meeting her and we hope to see her again one day soon. Click here to see our news coverage with anchor Wayne Freedman. We were also visited by Pat Kerrigan from KSRO talk radio. We had an interview with her before our appearance, and she was so excited that she had to come see the truck in person. It was such a jam-packed and fun-filled day and we loved meeting everyone who came by! After our event, we even had another interview with Morgan Vickers from roadtrippers.com. You can read her article here. When you are driving around a giant tater, you tend to get a lot of attention and potato paparazzi.
Once we wrapped up at the gardens in Santa Rosa, it was on to Sebastopol just a short drive away to park at the West County Museum overnight. After we parked, two gracious volunteers named Michael and Theresa gave us a tour of Luther Burbank’s experiment farm. The farm also has a house, and Burbank would commute on his bicycle between the gardens and his farm back in the day. There were even more plants there, and many of Burbank’s records of all of his new creations! It was an amazing hands-on experience to see all of his plants in person, and made me realize just how passionate and ingenious Burbank really was! The next day, we had another wonderful event at the museum and donated money to the experiment farm with another signature board. There was also more children’s activities and Spuddy Buddy made an appearance! Thank you so much to all of the volunteers from LBH&G and the West County Museum who took care of us during our stay! A special shout-out to Michael for being our tour guide around Sonoma and taking us wherever we needed to go. Until next time potato peeps!
-Tater Twin Kaylee