The farming community lost a good one this week. Carroll Heavner, affectionately known as the “Tater Man,” died on Tuesday. While he grew other things, such as the sweetest watermelons, he was best known for the bushels of sweet potatoes that he harvested and sold every year. He’s been farming all of his life and whenever asked, said he did it because he loved it.
Every year, Heavner planted some 35,000 sweet potato slips on five acres of land abutting the South Fork River in Catawba County. In early fall, he’d harvest thousands of bushels of Beauregard and Covington orange sweet potatoes and a third variety of white sweet potato, Boniato. His sweet potatoes were sold both at local farmers’ markets, resellers and to neighbors and fellow farmers.
Planting and harvesting sweet potatoes is hard work, but Heavner never complained. Sweet potatoes, to him, were like chocolates, you never know what you might get. Row after row of sweet potatoes, partially dug by tractor, but Heavner would often still need to finish digging the ‘taters up on his hands and knees by hand.
In addition to sweet potatoes, Heavner planted and harvested other seasonal vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, greens, okra, beans and peas that he sold at local farmers markets.
While Heavner was suffering with complications from cancer this summer and fall, he was still able to help get this year’s sweet potato crop in.
Memorials may be made to Crowell Memorial United Methodist Church, 4018 Killian Road in Lincolnton. Warlick Funeral Home of Lincolnton is serving the Heavner family. His funeral service will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1, at Crowell Memorial United Methodist Church with Rev. Jim Pritchard officiating. Burial will follow in the church cemetery. The family will receive friends on Friday from 12:30 - 2:45 p.m. at the church.