Now in its fourth year, the award-winning competition is organised by the Jersey Royal Company and supported by the Genuine Jersey Products Association and the States of Jersey Health Promotion Unit. In 2009 more than 100 classes from 21 schools took part with Bel Royal growing the heaviest crop, St Martin the most tubers and St Lawrence producing the best display of class work.
It is not just children who will be taking part this year; the Constables are being invited to join in a parochial challenge and for the second year running there will be a contest among the local media. Last year the Jersey Evening Post news team grew the heaviest crop. All competitions will be judged at the end of May.
Jersey Royal’s commercial manager William Church said: ‘‘We were delighted with last year’s record-breaking entries which saw more schools and children involved than in previous years. The schools’ competition provides children with the opportunity to understand how the Island’s most important crop is produced from planting early in the year, through lifting in the spring to how the crop is prepared for export to the UK market. We are also looking forward to seeing how the Connétables and the media fare in their contests which we hope will generate community interest in this year’s crop as well as being a fun experience for all the competitors.’
In addition to growing potatoes, the schools’ competition includes field trips to see how commercial crops are grown and harvested. It incorporates specific studies over the four-month growing period learning how plants grow, where food comes from, understanding the history of the Jersey Royal and the importance of a balanced healthy diet. To support their entries, schools are invited to submit class work which in the past has involved projects in English, history, geography, science, mathematics and even music.
Head teacher of St Lawrence School Chris Jones said that the competition is an important educational tool as it makes learning in so many areas fun and teaches children the importance of the Island’s farming traditions and rural culture.
‘It’s a brilliant buzz – the children absolutely love it which is why we incorporate the competition into the school syllabus. For example, in maths the children make graphs and learn to how to measure and weigh. In humanities they tie it into geography by learning about the different types of potatoes grown around the world while in literacy they write poems. They also make drawings and artwork to illustrate the display element of the competition,’ he said.
The Chief Executive of Genuine Jersey Products Association, John Garton said, ‘There has been huge support for this competition in the past and we are delighted to be able to offer it to school children once again. The Jersey Royal is an iconic product which continues to be hugely significant to the Island in terms of its heritage and economy. The competition provides a great way of teaching young people the historical importance of the Jersey Royal as well as relating it to today’s learning.’