MONTREAL -- People everywhere want to help out during the coronavirus crisis, and the small town of Coteau-du-Lac is no exception. When locals were called upon to eat a record amount of potatoes, they rose to the occasion.

This act of heroism began a few weeks ago, when Jack Thomas and Ange-Marie Delforge realized that their farm in Coteau-du-Lac, just west of Montreal, had piles of bounty and nowhere to send it.

“These cabbage and potatoes were destined for restaurants or transformation into coleslaw or french fries,” says Josée Drolet of the farm, Qualité Delbi.

With restaurants and processing plants closed, the independent farmers had a glut, but they didn’t want the food to go to waste.

So they decided to see if local people might be able to eat through an industrial-level potato supply, and came up with a way to encourage them: they promised on Facebook to donate part of the proceeds to two local hospitals if people helped out. 

It’s a big commitment for the average grocery shopper. The bags of potatoes are going for only $15, but they’re 50 pounds each.

Locals were up for it. They started pulling into the farm at 103 Chemin Saint-Emmanuel, where they self-served and left their payments in a box, using the honour system. 

So far, the farm's donations have added up to $500 for the Vaudreuil and Lakeshore hospitals.

“For the past month now, it’s unbelievable how the community has been helping and uplifting us to get through all of this,” says Drolet. 

And the honour system has been working even better than the farm imagined, she says, with people sometimes paying more than the asking price.

“I would say there’s more at the end of the day, because people leave a little extra and everybody's been very supportive and very honest.”

The farm’s new customers say they’ve learned a few things from the experience.

“Having been through this pandemic, it’s a lot more important to shop locally,” said a man named Matthew, arriving on Thursday from Chateauguay. “I’ve seen that now and I realize that now.”

At the very least, they’re picking up new potato recipes.

“I know [with] Google we’ll find a way,” said one man. “Half of it, we’ll give away anyways,” added his wife.