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Schools harvesting renews vigour for potatoes


Potatoes have been the centre of classroom activity as thousands of Earlies, grown as part of the Potato Council Grow Your Own Potatoes project, have been unearthed.

Nearly half a million pupils have had a hand in growing their own potatoes this year thanks to the scheme which aims to help the next generation develop positive, life-long potato-eating habits.

It began in earnest back in March when seed potatoes were planted by 14,500 participating schools and after three months, pupils and teachers alike were excited to discover what they had produced helped by growers themselves.

In Berkshire, 200 pupils from ten local schools joined Gloucester grower Graham Nichols at Newbury District and Agricultural Society (NDAS) to weigh out their crops of Rocket and Vales Emerald, along with Peter Seabrook, gardening editor of The Sun newspaper.

Organised by the GYOP team and Jan Murray, NDAS Education Officer, the event saw each school harvest crops of between 1-2kg of each variety a resounding success. Graham said: This is such a brilliant project and I never tire of seeing the anticipation from the children as they dig out their bags. Its great to see their faces light up as they discover their potatoes and hear them talk about them so enthusiastically. It is important that we continue to nurture this interest to ensure that potatoes remain in-demand in the future.

The team of newly appointed Potato Ambassadors have also been visiting schools in their regions to harvest crops and help change the way potatoes are perceived by the younger generation. From Portsmouth to Liverpool, schools have been thrilled to have real-life farmers in their midst.

Ambassador for Central England, Andrea Adams went along to Corbett Primary School in Stourbridge. She said: Potatoes play a really important role in the diet of our children and it is so important that they recognise this and also learn about the process from field to plate.

Nothing harnesses this quite as well as the Grow Your Own Potatoes project, which gets the whole class involved and interested not just in growing potatoes, but cooking and eating them too. The animation in school and the children telling us what theyve learnt and why they love potatoes is very rewarding, but we must keep that message alive.

Following the project, and to continue to build their understanding of how potatoes grow on a larger scale, Andrea will be hosting a farm tour for the children in July.

Sue Lawton from Potato Council said: The feedback from schools and growers participating this year has been fantastic. We know the project works because it is simple and good fun, and that means that the messages learnt by the children should endure and they will continue to enjoy potatoes in the future.

This is summed up by Miss Barnet of Kennett Valley Primary School, who said: Hands on activity and getting involved is the best way for children to learn; well definitely be signing up to Grow Your Own Potatoes again next year.

Schools have now entered their harvesting weights as part of a competition to find the heaviest crop of each variety, as well as the hunt to find the biggest single potato grown as part of the project in conjunction with The Sun newspaper. Great prizes are on offer, more details are available at

Potato Council, supporting the British potato industry, is funded by potato growers and trade buyers and is a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (

The Grow Your Own Potatoes project supports the primary school curriculum with a focus on the importance of a healthy balanced diet, where food comes from and how things grow. Visit

Schools taking part in the Grow Your Own Potatoes challenge are supplied with Vales Emerald and Rocket seed potatoes and planting advice

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