Cleveland County Potato Project suffers

Cleveland County Potato Project suffers


SHELBY, N.C. — ​Standing on acres of red dirt in Shelby, Doug Sharp says he was speechless when not a single potato grew this year.

 

What You Need To Know

The Cleveland County Potato Project is short 40,000 pounds of potatoes after a dry and hot growing season 

Doug Sharp and friend Bill Horn started the Cleveland County Potato Project in 2009 in response to a 15% unemployment rate in Cleveland County

Sharp and Horn wanted to help feed the community during the tough economic time and began to grow potatoes

Since 2009 they have help feed thousands by donated the potatoes to local organizations

 

Sharp and friend Bill Horn started the Cleveland County Potato Project in 2009 in response to the 15% unemployment rate in Cleveland County. 

They wanted to help feed families during the tough economic times. 

“So many of the cotton mills had closed down, and people were simply out of work,” Sharp said. “We knew that we could produce more potatoes per acre than any other crop.”

Neighbors donated land, machinery and hard work. Twelve years later, the Cleveland County Potato Project has grown thousands of pounds of potatoes and helped feed hundreds of families by donating the potatoes to local organizations that help distribute groceries. 

But Sharp says Cleveland County had a hot and dry summer, peak time for growing the crop, and the lack of rain did a number on the land. 

On one field in Shelby, he says not a single potato grew.

“This plot here, we actually planted it, they all died. About three weeks later we planted it again, they all died! There goes 40,000 pounds of potatoes,” Sharp said.

Beverly Murdock is the social worker at the Salvation Army in Shelby. 

She says Sharp has donated to the organization for many years, helping them feed families across North Carolina.

“I have taken potatoes to Greensboro, Charlotte families,” Murdock said. 

Sharp says they did get lucky by getting a donation from a farmer in Sampson County, but he is worried about next year. 

“We were at our wit’s end frankly with what we did this year,” he said. 



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