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He has a boutique planting operation on the outskirts of Ashburton where 1.6ha is dedicated to growing gourmet and table potatoes which are sold within the town boundary.
He has mostly Nadine, sown in September 2020, and also Agria and Red Rascal varieties, which were planted in mid-October.
Potatoes were "not easy work" but "it’s something for me to do and I enjoy doing it," he said.
Mr Withell (73) grew up on Tara Farm, at Winchmore, and, after a rural work life, has kept himself busy working the land in his retirement.
He helps the farm owner where he can with baleage or stockmanship of grazing and rearing animals.
But the potatoes offered a year-round income.
It is usually a one-man operation but he has the added help of grandson Jack and his friends during the end-of-season harvest.
Those potatoes are boxed and put into storage.
Mr Withell said the best storage for potatoes was to remain in the ground.
He only dug out potatoes as required until the final harvest.
"It’s economical, and runs good."
Mr Withell said the digger, which was 70 to 80 years old, was a horse-drawn model converted to a power take off.
He picked it up at a scrap dealer’s yard and, aside from working well, was good for the potatoes.
He attained NZ GAP certification — an assurance of safe and sustainable production — and has managed to get his gourmet product and 10kg table potatoes, packaged under Tara Growers Ashburton brand in 1kg boxes, into New World Ashburton.