The following article has been written by Claire Dyce from Grampian Growers:
The Young Grampian Growers project is an initiative to educate the younger generation on the potato growing process.
The competition is being run by Grampian Growers Ltd and the schools taking part are Laurencekirk Primary, Marykirk Primary, Fettercairn Primary, Luthermuir Primary and Auchenblae Primary. Grampian Growers Ltd is a farmer owned co-operative based on the outskirts of Montrose. Grampian Growers main activities are the production and marketing of daffodil flowers and bulbs and the production and marketing of seed potatoes.
In total, we have 21 teams across the 5 schools signed up which is a lot more interest that I first anticipated. At the end of January, I supplied the schools with compost and 6 Gemson seed potatoes each per team. Gemson is Grampian Growers own variety and produces small, white, round potatoes which makes it ideal for the baby potato and salad market.
Schools were to start ‘chitting’ their potatoes once they received them. Chitting is another word for sprouting. Chitting seed potatoes speeds up the ageing process of the potato, by exposing it to light and heat. This will cause the eyes of the seed potato to start sprouting so they are ready to plant into the soil.
To add a sustainability aspect of the project and to get the pupils creatively thinking, we left it up to them to decide what they want to grow their potatoes in. For example, some teams were thinking of growing them in an old pair of jeans, water bottles and wellie boots!
Once planted, it is then left up to the pupils to water and feed their potatoes to ensure maximum growth.
Once harvested, the potatoes will be weighed and brought to Fettercairn show which is being held on Saturday 7th July. The show is running a new local produce marquee this year and Grampian Growers are providing sponsorship toward the new event and will be holding an award presentation for the winners on the day in the marquee. The prizes will be for the heaviest crop of potatoes and the most innovative idea for growing the potatoes in.
The aim of the competition is to engage pupils in the growing process of potatoes. As a local potato, daffodil bulb and daffodil flower producer, Grampian Growers wants to help educate young children about food production and the range of health benefits potatoes have in particular.
Many kids are not aware of the steps involved in growing potatoes and although this competition is not field scale, it’s a great starting place to promote the field to fork campaign which hopefully encourages pupils to keep growing.