Gallery: Pupils feeling chipper as potato contest launched

Mia Hammond and and Katy Owen prepare to plant their potatoes

Mia Hammond and and Katy Owen prepare to plant their potatoes - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

Suffolk primary pupils aged seven to 10 will be digging deep over the next few months as they put their plant knowledge to the test in an annual potato growing contest.

This year, 86 pupils from Charsfield CEVCP School, The Meadows Montessori, Birchwood Primary School, Dennington CEVCP School and Sproughton Primary School will be pitting their skills against each other, as well as comparing how they fare against professional farmers in the Suffolk Agricultural Association (SAA)-run event.

The SAA, which has been running its own National Potato Council Grow Your Own Potato challenge since 2011, shows youngsters how to plant and nurture their potato plants before sending them away with growing kits.

This year, each participating school was issued with two kits, one of Rocket and one of Rudolph seed potatoes, at an event at Trinity Park, Ipswich, yesterday.

Harvesting day takes place on June 16, when children are involved in a number of activities and at the end, a winner is announced. There to provide them with some farming and growing know-how yesterday were farmers Bruce Kerr of Letheringham, John Taylor of Clopton, Jim Wayman of Rendlesham, Tim Pratt of Wantisden and Helen Mickelsen of Nacton, Ipswich, who also took home their own kits to test their skills against those of the pupils.

Children discovered interesting facts and figures about potatoes, how and where the potato is used, and what varieties are available. They also learnt about other crops, such as sugar beet, wheat and barley, which are grown in the region.

SAA education officer Helen Fomenko said the day helped the youngsters to connect the crops with the products they see on supermarket shelves.

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“They don’t know much about the potato, how it’s grown and what’s needed to make it grow. They have very limited knowledge about where the potato is used, so it’s quite a good day for them to expand their knowledge,” she said.