Persistence pays off when you’re growing potatoes. Dan Chin, owner and operator of Wong Potatoes in Merrill, Oregon knows this well, and so did his father and grandfather before him.
Chin’s grandfather Sam Wong came to the United States from China in the early 1900s, first to the Stockton, Calif., area and then to Fallon, Nev., experiencing failed crops and hard financial times. Wong later moved to Alturas, where he opened a Chinese restaurant before hearing of potato possibilities in the Klamath Basin from a traveling salesman.
Keeping his restaurant in Alturas, Wong started growing Russet potatoes in Merrill, changing the direction of his and eventually Chin’s future. “He was persistent,” Chin said of his grandfather, “so we’ve been growing potatoes in the Klamath Basin since the early 1930s.”
With another tough water year behind him, and workers busily harvesting his 47th crop, Chin shares his family’s resiliency and resolve to keep his business going despite challenges he and his business face.
Some of the concerns this year have been ensuring longtime customers both near and far, some who he has supplied for over 50 years or more, that they could keep buying their spuds from Wong Potatoes.