Potato growers connect with kids

Potato growers have played a key supporting role in the British Potato Council’s (BPC) education project for primary school children, ‘Grow Your Own Potatoes’.

Around 4000 schools harvested their plants recently, following months of hard work caring for them.

Pupils at Velmead Junior School in Hampshire grew the heaviest crop of rocket potatoes this year, weighing in at a staggering 6,230kg. They received a National Champion prize of a digital camera and a framed BPC certificate.

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Mr. Howard, head of Velmead said: “The children were very excited, from planting the seed potatoes right up to harvesting, and it helped them understand the whole process of where food comes from. We are always looking for innovative ways of capturing the children’s interest and this proved to be the perfect ‘growing’ activity for them.”

UK potato growers helped by visiting schools, giving talks to children, arranging farm visits and encouraging schools to sign up to participate. There was also practical help on offer and many provided a second variety of seed potato for schools to grow.

“The contribution made by the farming community has been an essential element in ensuring the success of this campaign and I would like to thank them all for their efforts,” said Tracy Coult, Grow Your Own Potatoes project manager at the BPC.

“This year’s project was the most successful ever, generating four times the level of participation among primary schools compared with last year. The project has now been running for three years and every time it has grown in popularity, which is really encouraging for the future.”

Motivation for the project was borne out of research that revealed six out of ten children believed potatoes grew on trees and one in seven thought they made you fat.

These attitudes have now changed dramatically and the latest research shows that more than nine out of ten children now understand how potatoes are grown.

Growers are being encouraged to get involved in Grow Your Own Potatoes 2008 and the BPC has posted useful resources on its web site for growers to use when visiting schools.

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