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Primary schools prepare for a Royal battle

Date: 03/05/2007 | Posted by John Garton
THE culmination of a Jersey Royal potato growing competition involving 19 of the island’s primary schools is forming part of the Liberation Day celebrations in People’s Park. The results of the two-month contest will be judged by a panel of agricultural experts and announced at the Jersey Royal Potato Festival.

All primary schools were invited to enter the competition, which was devised to support the science curriculum and work on healthy eating. The idea was to show children how things grow, where food comes from and the importance of a balanced healthy diet.

The initiative is being run by Jersey Tourism, in conjunction with the Health Promotion Unit, Jersey Royal Potato Marketing Ltd and Genuine Jersey.

In total, 75 primary school classes entered. Organiser Catherine Vint visited the schools to give each class two seed potatoes, a growing container and compost courtesy of Belles Fleurs Nursery. She also provided tips for generating the best results, such as avoiding direct heat sources and giving plants plenty of sunlight.

On Liberation Day, the schools will find out who has the greenest fingers when the potatoes from their two plants are assessed. Deputy Sarah Ferguson is to scrutinise the final weigh in, while Genuine Jersey vice-chairman Peter Tabb will act as master of ceremonies. On hand to inspect the quality of the specimens will be gardening expert Denis Shaw and John Hidrio, the president of the horticultural section of the RJA&HS. Trading Standards Officer Martin Preisig will be overseeing the weighing and measuring.

All teachers and children have been invited to the awards ceremony on Liberation Day and schools will be presented with a certificate detailing their results. The presentation also includes a slide show of Jersey Royals.

Prizes will be awarded by Deputy Ferguson – assisted by Karen Le Cornu of Health Promotion – to the school with the best display of potatoes in the dedicated marquee. Dennis Shaw and John Hidrio will present £50 vouchers to the schools with the best quality Jersey Royals and the heaviest batch produced.

Catherine Vint said: “The response from schools to the competition has been fantastic. At Janvrin School, for example, all 15 classes wanted to take part, from Nursery to Year 6. The big weigh in on Liberation Day will prove which school in the island has grown the biggest weight of Jersey Royals and who is growing the prize specimens.”

Genuine Jersey will also be organising a potato tasting challenge. Members of the public will be invited to sample Jersey Royals from four dishes to determine, once and for all, which corner of the island produces the most flavoursome spuds. The results will be announced towards the end of the afternoon.