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Youngsters from Norfolk schools plant their potatoes

15:12 21 March 2014

Potato Day at the Norfolk Showground. Children from St Mary

Potato Day at the Norfolk Showground. Children from St Mary's Junior School, Long Stratton, listen to Felicity Daniels, assistant head steward for the Norfolk Show, as she explains how to plant potatoes. Picture: Denise Bradley

copyright: Archant 2014

Youngsters from across the county spent a day at the Norfolk showground planting potatoes.

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Schools were invited to send groups of pupils to the “Grow your own Potatoes” planting activity by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association.

A total of 120 children aged between six and nine from schools at Holt, Great Yarmouth, Dereham, Shouldham and Hilgay in west Norfolk were given tips on how to get the best results from planting two potato varieties.

The teams, which have all been named after commercial potato varieties, will be competing to grow the heaviest crop from their three potatoes. A grand harvest “weigh-in” will take place at the Royal Norfolk Show when judges will see which team has grown the heaviest crop.

A 23-strong group from Holt Community Primary School – the Charlotte team - was shown how to care for their crop by RNAA steward, Fil Daniels.

An expanding Breckland school at Great Hockham, which has seen the pupil roll rise from 68 to a projected 83 this autumn, brought half a dozen children.

Head teacher Hannah Wheeler said that the school already had a garden and orchard and this would be a practical opportunity to compare the rate of the crop’s growth with the outdoor and indoor plants. And her team named after the Desiree variety would be taking turns to feed and water the crop.

“This is really important and a very practical way to learn how a key food crop is grown,” said Mrs Wheeler, who has been at the school for the past two years.

St Martin’s at Shouldham had brought a total of 26 children, who were in two teams, Maris Peer and Osprey. Teacher Amanda Burniston, who was in her first year as a teacher, had also grown potatoes as a child. “We’ll have rotas for looking after the potatoes but I expect I might have to look after them during the Easter holidays,” she added.

Two potato growers, Tim Papworth, of Felmingham, who is a board member of Potato Council, and Tim Briscoe, of Buxton, near Aylsham, explained how crops were grown. Award-winning grower, William Gribbon, of Heygates Farms, near Swaffham, described some of the dozens of everyday foods which were made from or contained potatoes.

The activity day was building on the Potato Council’s Grow Your Own Potatoes project, which has involved thousands of schools across the country. The harvest results will be displayed at the Royal Norfolk Show on Wednesday, June 25 and Thursday, June 26.

Half the tickets for the Spring Fling, which takes place at the Norfolk showground on Wednesday, April 9 have already sold. Tickets, which cost £8.50 each, are only available in advance and online – www.royalnorfolkshow.co.uk

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