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MPs lend a hand at harvesting time

Children across the country have been harvesting new potato crops as part of the Potato Council’s primary school project, Grow Your Own Potatoes.

Little Thetford Harvesting

Little Thetford Harvesting

Keen to observe educational activity in their constituencies, local MPs have been taking time out see how the project is influencing youngsters about food and farming.

Seven visits took place, including former farming minister Sir Jim Paice MP who joined pupils at Little Thetford C of E Primary as they unearthed their ‘Casablanca’ potatoes. Similarly, local MP Sir Roger Gale made the trip to Chartfield School, Kent to help excited pupils harvest plants alongside local grower and Potato Ambassador Matt Spanton.

Head of marketing and corporate affairs, Caroline Evans, said: “We’re delighted in the growing interest from MPs in the work the potato industry is doing to boost awareness amongst young children.

“The Grow Your Own Potatoes initiative encourages children to take a hands-on approach as they learn how food is produced. The project also successfully assists youngsters learning about a healthy balanced diet and instils positive eating habits that will stay with them as they grow. Both of these are very much part of the Government’s educational and healthy eating agenda.”

Sir Jim Paice MP added: “Seeing the excitement on the children’s faces as they try to find another tiny tuber shows that they will always know potatoes grow in the ground, not on trees!”

Harvesting events also took place at:

  • Llandrindod Wells CP School, Powys with Roger Williams MP
  • Doonfoot Primary School, Ayr with Sandra Osbourne MP
  • Newlaithes Infant School, Carlisle with John Stevenson MP
  • Braeburn Infant and Nursery School, Scarborough with Robert Goodwill MP
  • Douglas Primary School, Douglas with Claudia Beamish MSP

Much of the success of the project comes from its ability to adapt to different school objectives. Building on its popularity in mainstream education, the project is growing from strength to strength and has now been enhanced to include tools and materials that extend its reach to children with special education needs.

Specifically developed by a former special needs teacher and freelance education consultant, the vast range of tools include lesson plans, a sensory study, texture carousel, key sign language words, songs and achievement certificates. Through these, students can build a scrapbook of their potato growing and eating experiences.

Potato Council education co-ordinator, Sue Lawton, said: “We think it is important that all children learn how great potatoes are. It was identified that the project would be particularly well suited for specialist teaching, but needed the necessary resources to ensure teachers and pupils gained maximum benefit. These have been adapted from the original material and are available to access from the website”

The resources have already received positive feedback with one teacher commenting: “I just wanted to say that I think your SEN resources are fantastic. They are obviously designed by people who really understand the challenges of working with children on the P (performance) levels.”

Registration for GYOP 2014 is already open, so encourage your local schools to participate. For more information or ideas on how you can be involved contact or visit


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