Santa's bag may be loaded with toys, but a closer look reveals plenty of Idaho spuds as well.
People across the country are giving friends and relatives Idaho's famous Russet Burbanks for Christmas, and several Idaho companies and individuals are enjoying a profitable season.Green Field Farmer, an Idaho Falls company, offers people the chance to lease a piece of Idaho and receive five pounds of Idaho No. 1s, without getting dirt under their nails or losing sleep over the threat of black-spot bruising or destroying the crop.
For $29.95, recipients get a certificate of an unrecorded lease of a potato field near Idaho Falls, a short history about potatoes, regular reports and photos of the crop's progress and finally a box of hand-selected potatoes.
Program Director Susan Foster said Green Field Farmer has an agreement with an eastern Idaho farmer to produce the crop, provide progress reports and sell them the potatoes.
The idea of marketing Idaho's potatoes started in January when Foster realized companies in other parts of the country were capitalizing on their state's famous commodities.
A company in Vermont lets people lease maple trees in exchange for quarts of maple syrup, she said.
People searching for unusual gifts were the program's original targets, but Foster said all types of people have responded to the Green Field Farmer advertisements.
She said people have ordered the potato gift packages for themselves, their children, friends and business clients. Green Field Farmer has received about 100 orders to date, but as Christmas draws near, business has picked up. Foster received 25 orders Monday.
Green Field Farmer isn't the only business capitalizing on Idaho's No. 1 crop.
Jennifer Vroman and Joanie Sharp have been selling "spud boxes" for $15.95 and shipping them across the country for the past three years.
The entrepreneurs, both high school sophomores, came up with the idea while passing a potato field.
They began selling the gift boxes as part of a 4-H marketing project and get advice from the Idaho Small Business Development Center in Idaho Falls.
They hope to pass the business on to their siblings when they graduate from high school in 1992.