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On Your Marks, Get Set, Grow!

Date: 18/01/2016 | Posted by John Garton

The tenth Genuine Jersey Royal Potato Growing Competition, organised by the Genuine Jersey Products Association and sponsored by The Channel Islands Co-operative Society, launches this week as invitations to take part are sent to all the primary schools.

The annual event, which sees primary school pupils, the Constables, Women’s Institute branches and the media grow the Island’s premier crop in a bucket, has a new main sponsor this year. The Channel Islands Co-operative Society has been a longstanding supporter of Genuine Jersey and its values of backing local agriculture, protecting the environment and promoting seasonal crops and the importance of provenance.

The competition is also supported by Belles Fleurs Nursery, the States of Jersey Public Health Department and The Jersey Royal Company.

The challenge is to see who can grow the heaviest crop and highest yield of the Island’s world-renowned potato. Schools also get to learn about the health-giving properties of a balanced diet based on fresh local produce when it is at its seasonal best.   

Each competitor receives a growing kit comprising two Jersey Royal seed potatoes, polystyrene chips, compost and fertiliser – and a bucket to grow them in. All the competitors will be judged at the end of May.

Now in its tenth year, this popular highlight in the primary curriculum attracts more entries year on year. In 2015, over 7,000 pupils took part from 31 primary schools between February and May, with St Christopher’s growing the heaviest crop, Grouville the most tubers and St Lawrence producing the best course work.

It is likely that the 50,000th primary school pupil will take part in the competition this year.

Last year the Constable of St Mary, Juliette Gallichan, grew the heaviest crop and the most tubers. There was a double triumph in the media competition, too, with Connect magazine taking both titles. In the inaugural WI class, La Pouquelaye grew the heaviest potatoes while St John had the most tubers.

The Chief Executive of Genuine Jersey Products Association, John Garton, said: “The 50,000th pupil taking part, which is likely to happen this year, is a significant milestone and we will have a decade’s worth of students who have a better understanding of how food is produced and the importance of Jersey’s agricultural industry.

“With every year, the competition gets bigger and better and we want this year to be fantastic celebration of the historical and cultural importance of the Jersey Royal and Island life.”

Colin Macleod, CEO of the Channel Islands Co-operative Society, said: “We are proud to be associated with the Genuine Jersey Royal Potato Growing Competition and everything it stands for. The Society is a passionate supporter of local suppliers, spending over £10.5m with them each year across the islands. This support has a major impact on our Island economy and communities, creating an enriching web of economic and social relationships, and preserving what makes Jersey a distinctive, fantastic place to be.”