A North Side farmer is still awestruck after digging up a 26-pound sweet potato from a rugged piece of farmland some weeks ago.

The white sweet potato. - Photos: Jewel Levy
The white sweet potato. – Photos: Jewel Levy

Rolin Chisholm, 64, is pleased with his Feb. 2 find, and the thought of having a record breaker has him hanging on to the giant potato before dividing it between friends and family.

Mr. Chisholm unearthed the giant, oddly shaped tuber from a piece of land in Old Man Bay which he recently cleared for his daughter.

“When Daddy discovered the giant potato, he said ‘Khadija, you have to come down to North Side to the farm, I think I just created history. You are not going to believe the size of a sweet potato I have in the earth,’” said Mr. Chisholm’s daughter Khadija Chisholm.

When Ms. Chisholm reached the cliff-top farm, it was getting dark, but her father insisted she start digging.

“I dug and dug, but I could not get around the giant potato,” she said.

In the end, Mr. Chisholm resorted to using a crowbar to extract the potato from the ground a few days later.

“The moment I saw the size of the potato, it was a phenomenal moment with my dad that I will always cherish,” said Ms. Chisholm.

“I felt such pride as a daughter knowing that my father grew such a record-breaking potato. I also felt pride as a Caymanian knowing what this could mean for our agricultural development and our islands.”

Mr. Chisholm said he had not done anything special to cultivate such a super-sized potato, although he had been regularly watering a Seville orange tree nearby and the water had been running down onto the potato vine.

Mr. Chisholm also reaped three other huge potatoes, weighing close to 10 pounds each from the same area.

“I was definitely surprised at how rich the soil is in that area of North Side,” he said.
Mr. Chisholm explained that the giant potato is what is known as a Cuban potato, distinguishable by its wrinkles and misshapen look.

Other types of potatoes he grows on the farm include white sweet potatoes originating from Barbados, and red sweet potatoes, which Caymanians call “chicken foot” potatoes.

Mr. Chisholm also grows cassava, pumpkins, tomatoes, beans, avocados, cassava, scallion and much more.

He says he started focusing his attention on farming and living off the land and sea when things began slowing down at his cabinet-making business of 36 years.

“Farming was something I always loved. My father would go inland to hunt for rabbits to cook, and going with him I learned to hunt and fish,” he said.

Mr. Chisholm measures the stalks of scallions on his farm.
Mr. Chisholm measures the stalks of scallions on his farm.

“[Cabinet-making] work is hard to get, so I hunt rabbits, I go fishing, and I farm. That is how I look so young and healthy,” he said.

A cave Mr. Chisholm discovered on the property serves as a tranquil resting spot when he needs a break.

To get to the cave, Mr. Chisholm descends into a wide cavern with shady strawberry, fig and thatch trees growing throughout. The setting is magical and homey at the same time. A crystal-like formation of rock glistens in the sunshine. A hammock swings gently in the breeze among the trees, and off to the side at the entrance to another cave, is another hammock.

Other furnishings in the space include a water cooler, a table and chair, and artwork hanging from the ceiling. The white powdery sand carpeting the cave’s floor was probably deposited there when the cave was flooded at some point.

“I just come down here when I want to relax,” said Mr. Chisholm as he climbed into the hammock.

His efforts to return to a simpler way of life and bring back the benefits of Cayman’s rustic heritage seem to be working.

“The greatest things in life are happiness, being contented, eating good food, and exercise, which are the major things I try to upkeep,” he said.