Meet potato growers, Randy and Karlene Hardy; high school sweethearts, born, raised and now thriving in Oakley, a small town nestled between mountains in south-central Idaho, population 673. Karlene says of her husband, “I knew when I was dating him that he took the farm very seriously.
In June 1972, Randy and Karlene were married and moved home from college to help his father with their 300-acre farm. Two months later, his father passed away and Randy began running the farm. Today, the Hardy’s and son, Ben, along with two full-time employees operate Hardy Farms, Inc, a 3000-acre family farming operation. They grow wheat, barley, alfalfa, and corn silage, along with 625 acres of fresh Russet Burbank potatoes.
The way of life in rural Idaho can’t be beat, Karlene asserts. They raised five children, all of them boys but one, and beam about their 26 grand children. “We have worked as a family and been able to pass on the love of the farm, respect for nature and appreciation of hard work to our children and grandchildren.”
Potatoes are definitely a staple in the Hardy’s diet. Among their favorite recipes are French fries and skin-on mashed potatoes, potato casserole, potato rolls and Spudnuts. If there was one word to describe potatoes, the Hardy’s would say, “versatile.”
Randy looks at being able to continue to farm as one of his greatest personal achievements. “I have seen so many good people have to leave this way of life. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to raise my family on the farm and still be able to work outdoors and feel the real accomplishment of raising crops. The potato industry has helped me live a good life.”
Although he jokingly denies it, Randy first noticed Karlene when he tried to run over her with his bicycle in second grade. It took another nine years before they danced their first dance, when he was a junior and she was a senior in high school… and the rest is history. Randy and Karlene celebrated their 40th anniversary on June 8, 2012.