What an honor! A Caribou man has been named 2014 Young Farmer of the Year by the Maine Potato Board.

Congratulations go out to Robert M. Irving of Caribou!  Robbie is the son of Steve and Patti Irving of Washburn. Robbie grew up on the family farm and is the sixth generation of the Irving family to raise potatoes in Aroostook County.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

Robbie’s great-grandfather Ken Irving established the “home farm” in Washburn in 1936, and today Irving Farms Inc. is located in Caribou, where Robbie farms with his uncles Scott and Jeff and with his father until his dad’s recent retirement.

Robbie and his wife Meagan have two children, 4-year-old Carter and 11-month-old Evelyn; Carter is already planning to be the seventh generation Irving to be a potato grower in Maine.

Robbie lived the whole farm experience.  “I was lucky to have grown up on a farm and to have learned what work ethic really means from my parents and uncles,” said Robbie. “I was on the planter when I was maybe 12, before school and then after school until dark. It was real work, but it was also the best learning experience for a kid.”

After graduating from Washburn High School, Robbie was uncertain what he wanted to do. He attended Husson University in Bangor, majoring in business administration.  “My parents didn’t push me into staying on the farm. But once I graduated from college, becoming involved in the family farm just seemed to click. Being a part of our growing operation and having the opportunity to get a few decisions under my belt, I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

Robbie is vice president of Irving Farms Inc. as well as logistics coordinator for Irving Farms Marketing and North State Transportation. He also serves as food safety coordinator for Irving Farms Inc. and has HACCP certification as well as the SQF 2000 practitioners certification.

The Irving operation raises 1,800 acres of potatoes and grains. Robbie and his family grow, handle and pack all sizes of white, russet, red, and yellow potatoes for the fresh market, and distribute and market processing potatoes and all varieties of foundation and certified seed and grain from Maine and other Eastern growing origins. Irving Farms, Inc. also grows processing potatoes for the french fry market.

Robbie also is involved with the industry on a policy level, serving on support committees for the Maine Potato Board, including appearing before the Legislature’s agriculture, forestry and conservation committee last year on LD1557.

Congratulations Robbie! You make the County proud!

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