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Establishing Roots: Aberdeen farm family starts potato chip business

Ladd and Zoey Wahlen, pictured with their three children, recently started a potato chip business in Aberdeen (Courtesy: Zoey Wahlen)

From field to bag to front door, an Aberdeen farm family has recently launched a potato chip business that focuses on being involved in all parts of the potato’s journey from seed to the customer’s palate.

Roots Potato Chips, which was started in late February, is an endeavor that Aberdeen farmer Ladd Wahlen and his wife Zoey decided to pursue after experimenting with the concept in 2020. And although it’s only been about three weeks since its inception, the Wahlens said their company has seen great success both in-state and out of it.

Ladd Wahlen:
"The first couple of weeks have been great. And most of our online sales have been from out of state."
Their chips, all of which are grown at their family farm and processed in Aberdeen, include flavors such as barbeque, mild jalapeno, sea salt and vinegar, Idaho russet sea salt, and purple and red sea salt with avocado oil.

The chips can be found at Aberdeen’s Stokes Fresh Food Market and Our Place Café, but also in other Idaho cities such as Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, Rexburg and even Boise. In addition, customers can order online and have the products shipped to their doorsteps, with free shipping included if customers participate in Roots’ subscription service and order regularly on a one month, two month or three month basis.

Ladd Wahlen:
"We wanted to start this because there’s not really an Idaho potato chip company in Idaho. We wanted to do some niche stuff such as red and purple potato chips, and we’ll be doing organic, and we also have chips in avocado oil."
Ladd explained that they have several goals for the business, one of which includes shedding light on their agricultural practices in growing and producing their product in healthy ways.

Zoey Wahlen, co-owner and marketing manager of Roots Potato Chips:
"We use a lot of regenerative and sustainable practices on our farm and we want to share that information with people and that’s a big goal we’re doing on our social media platform. We want to show the good that we’re doing on the farm and how that affects our potatoes and our chips and connect people where there’s a big disconnect."
Another goal is expanding their reach throughout Idaho to the point where their products can be found in many grocery stores and sandwich shops around the state.

Zoey Wahlen:
"We’d really like to get our chips in the hands of people across the entire state of Idaho. We’d really like to represent here and also our neighboring states."
The Wahlens also have the desire to give back to the community that has supported them for many years. They currently donate a percentage of the proceeds of every bag they sell to the Idaho Food Bank.

Ladd Wahlen:
"We are small but our purpose as a company is two-fold. Our first purpose is that we want to educate people about agriculture. The second purpose is that we want to give back. We want to do good."
Ladd explained that he’s searching for sandwich shops, retailers and grocery stores that would be interested in stocking their shelves with Roots Potato Chips, as they can come in small snack-sized 1.37 ounce bags or 5 ounce family-sized bags.

While the past few weeks have seen a great increase in the work that needs to be done, Zoey said she loves the opportunity to work as a family.

Zoey Wahlen:
"I’ve really loved being able to work with my husband every single day. It’s really a family-run business. And it’s been really exciting to see other people excited about it and grow since we’ve put so much work into starting this."