Potato growing in the Faroe Islands in 19th century

  • Isholm E
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The potato became an important crop in the Faroe Islands early in the 19th century and subsequently vital in the 1820s and 1830s, when crofters started to enclose and cultivate small plots of land. These plots of land were crucial in ensuring population growth and in extending cultivated land. Local officials followed these events closely. During the 1830s problems emerged concerning the quality of seed potatoes and the limited supply, problems which only intensified as time passed. Concern was raised by one sheriff that difficulties in finding new seeds would prevent the expanding cultivation, whilst others worried that the deterioration in seed quality would result in a decline in growth, thus jeopardizing the livelihood of crofters. In this article the story of seed potatoes purchased by governor Pløyen in Orkney in 1839 is followed. The point being made is that by acquiring these seed potatoes the authorities ensured that the progress of the previous 20 years continued. Furthermore, the purchasing of a shipment of seed potatoes is linked to other modernization plans for Faroese society, which governor Pløyen and others worked on at the time. For these plans to succeed, it was vital to ensure the living conditions of the crofter families as change would not emerge from the old peasant society.




Isholm, E. (2015). Potato growing in the Faroe Islands in 19th century. Fróðskaparrit - Faroese Scientific Journal, 52–83. https://doi.org/10.18602/fsj.v0i61.13

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