Stonham Aspal: Potato connoisseurs celebrate the humble spud
11:00 11 February 2013
CHIPPED, jacketed, mashed and boiled – the humble spud in all its most popular forms took centre stage at an open day at the weekend.
East Anglia Potato Day, which was celebrated at Stonham Barns near Stowmarket on Saturday, put 25 varieties of British potato in the spotlight ranging from Maris Piper to King Edward.
There were also more than 100 different varieties of seed potato on display alongside an array of gardening books and tools.
Established in 1996 and run entirely by volunteers from the Suffolk, Ipswich and Norfolk organic gardeners groups, the annual event attracted hundreds of visitors keen to take part in potato tastings and seed swaps.
Potato Day is one of the few events in the UK dedicated to the crop, which is a mainstay of the British diet and very much part of our cultural heritage.
Stonham Barns events manager Gary Newland said: “We had an enormous number of people turn up to the event and it’s just amazing how popular the humble spud is. With so many varieties available in the UK, the supermarkets can’t possibly stock them all on their shelves so a day like this enables people to try them out and see how different the flavours can be.
“We had a stall offering people a chance to try chips made from different varieties of potato and that proved enormously popular.
“Most people have no idea how much choice there is but once they’ve been here and tried them, many become potato connoisseurs.”
Two local companies – Tomlinson Groundcare from Stowmarket and Stanton-based Tripp Batt – exhibited at the event this year for the first time and Mr Newland said he hoped to eventually grow Potato Day at Stonham into a more general gardening expo.
He added: “We had so many people through the gates; it shows the interest local people have in growing their own produce.”