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Video/Gallery: School children get an education in potatoes at Trinity Park Potato Day

PUBLISHED: 17:08 12 March 2014 | UPDATED: 17:13 12 March 2014

Pupils from Charsfield, Sproughton and Birchwood schools take part in national grow you own potatoes day at Trinity Park, Ipswich

Pupils from Charsfield, Sproughton and Birchwood schools take part in national grow you own potatoes day at Trinity Park, Ipswich

Did you know that the potato was introduced to England by Sir Walter Raleigh? These were just some of the potato-related facts that children learnt about at a morning of workshops in Ipswich.

Facts about the potato:

• The potato is the world’s fourth largest food crop, following rice, wheat and maize.

• In 1536 Spanish Conquistadors conquered Peru, discovered the flavours of the potato, and carried them to Europe.

• There are 4,300 varieties of native potatoes, mostly found in the Andes Mountains. They come in many shapes and sizes.

• One hectare of potato can yield between two and four times the food quantity of grain crops. Potatoes produce more food per unit of water than any other major crop and are up to seven times more efficient in using water than cereals.

• When boiled, a single medium sized potato contains about half the daily adult requirement of vitamin C, as well as significant amounts of iron, potassium and zinc.

• In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages, and eventually, feeding future space colonies.

Potato Day was hosted by the Suffolk Agricultural Association on behalf of the Potato Council in Trinity Park yesterday.

66 children attended the event which is in its fourth year, they were from Sproughton CEVC Primary, All Saints CEVA Primary, Birchwood Primary School and Charsfield CEVC Primary.

The children were guided through four workshops which culminated in them planting their own varieties of potato to grow and care for themselves. In this they were guided by Helen Mickelson from Home Farm Nacton. Come June these potatoes will be weighed and the school with the best yield will win the competition.

Last year the title went pupils at Dennington CEVC Primary under teacher Michael Burges.

Now Michael is teaching Years 3 and 4 at the affiliated Charsfield CEVC Primary, and he again took his pupils to the Potato Day.

“The children loved it,” he said, “Over our lunch break I asked them has anybody learnt anything today and they all reeled off a huge amount of things that they had learnt.

“I think it’s quite nice as well because they’re going to look after the potatoes and take them home in the Easter holidays, so it ties in well with the curriculum and particularly with the geography curriculum where they learn about what can be produced from the land.”

The pupils also took part in a quiz led by Emma Jackson from Farming and Countryside Education, following which local farmers John Taylor and Bruce Kerr presented a talk entitled ‘From The Field To The Shop’ which looked at how the potato goes from a tiny seed to a consumable product.

Finally Jim Wayman, a champion of vegetable growing in Suffolk, provided an introduction to the various crops which are grown on our doorstep as well as giving them some tips for good growth conditions.

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