Bodega Red is one of only a handful of potato varieties introduced to the United States directly from the potato motherland: South America. It is one of a rare group of potatoes brought up the west coast of South, Central America and Mexico to the United States and was adopted by early settlers. Genetic testing has shown that the potato originated from Chilean potatoes.
Bodega Reds are part of a small group of potatoes, which includes the Makah Ozette that made their way all the way up the West Coast into Southeastern Alaska. Local legend claims that before the Gold Rush of the late 1840s, the Bodega Red potato jumped ship with a sailor in northern California above San Francisco at Bodega Bay in Sonoma County. It prospered, and this area – Bodega Bay to Petaluma and along Tomales Bay into Marin County became known as the potato capital of California. During this time, the Bodega Red was shipped on barges from Bodega Bay to San Francisco where it fed the San Francisco Bay area. It was also taken to gold fields in the Sierras to feed the miners. Spud Point, Marina, in the Bodega Bay Harbor, was given its name after a barge filled with Bodega Reds sank at that spot.
The historic area of production is located in the Northern California area of Bodega Bay to Petaluma and along Tomales Bay into Marin County. Bodega Red potato is still being produced in the same area. Studies by horticulturalist and botanist Luther Burbank (1849-1926) found that the potato was extremely susceptible to blight. After struggling in production, Bodega Red yields came to an end in the 1970s.
The Bodega Red potato is slightly flattened and oblong in shape with pink-red skin. It has a rich potato flavor that is both creamy and nutty. The texture is an excellent balance between waxy and starchy. The skin is delicately thin with no bitter flavor. The Bodega Red is a versatile potato that can be baked, steamed, boiled, deep-fried, grilled, mashed, pureed. Traditionally, during the California Gold Rush in the 1850s, cooks used to prepare them outdoors in field kitchens and served them to miners.
The most common planting to follow potatoes is a cover crop. Typically a mix of legumes and grasses as the cover crop restores soil fertility and adds organic matter. The Bodega Red growers practice rotation with kales, winter squashes, root crops. As the name implies, the potato’s history is closely tied to the coast, especially benchlands near rivers or creeks where hydrology can support dry farming.
The Red Bodega Potato is in season during the autumn and sold in local farmers’ markets in California.
The goal of the convivium is to raise awareness on this potato variety and its cultural and social connection with the local area. Through the work with the seed potato source, the goal is to return the potato to prominence in the region encouraging more farmers to grow it.
Area of production
Western Sonoma County, Western Marin County and Sonoma County inland valleys: Russian River Valley, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Valley.
1720 Canyon Road
Geyserville, CA 95441
4250 West Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
www.HealdsburgShed.com (search HomeFarm)
Preston Farm and Winery
9282 West Dry Creek Road
Healdsburg, CA 95448
651 Airport Blvd.
Mailing address: 399 Business Park Court #312, Windsor, CA 95492
Foggy River Farm
Healdsburg, California 95448
Seed Potato Source:
8497 Guide Meridian
Lynden, WA 98264
Slow Food Sonoma County
tel. +1 7074338444