Island primary schools are being invited to compete in the 2013 Genuine Jersey Royal Potato Growing Competition to see which class can grow the heaviest crop of the Island’s famous potato in a bucket.
Now in its seventh year, the competition is organised by the Genuine Jersey Products Association and sponsored by Belles Fleurs Nursery, and is supported by The Jersey Royal Company and the States of Jersey Public Health Department.
In 2012, a record number – more than 6,000 children from 30 schools – took part with St Lawrence taking the top prize by growing the heaviest crop for the fifth time.
It is not just children who take part. The Constables and Island media are also being invited to compete again in what have become hotly-contested challenges. All the competitors will be judged at the end of May, as part of the Jersey Food Festival, and the certificates will be presented by the Chairman of the Genuine Jersey Management Committee, Jim Hopley at a ceremony to be held at Grouville Parish Hall.
The Chief Executive of Genuine Jersey Products Association, John Garton said: ‘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 preparation for export to the UK market. It also enables young Islanders to understand the historical and cultural importance of the Jersey Royal as well as learning about the health-giving properties of a balanced diet based on fresh local produce when it is at its seasonal best.’
The Jersey Royal potato is one of a small number of fresh produce lines that have been granted a Protected Designation of Origin by the EU. This means only Jersey Royals grown in the Island can carry the Jersey Royal brand.
Depending on the climate during the growing season the total Jersey Royal crop ranges from 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes per year. At the peak of production in May, up to 1,500 tonnes are exported daily, with pickers working long hours in order to get Jersey Royals on UK supermarket shelves in their prime.
The schools’ competition incorporates specific studies over the three-month growing period learning how plants grow, where food comes from, understanding the history of the Jersey Royal and the importance of eating a balanced healthy diet. To support their entries, schools are invited to submit written work which in the past has involved projects in English, history, geography, science, mathematics and even music.
The schools competition comprises three categories:
1. Total weight of potatoes grown
2. Number of tubers grown
3. Project work.
Each class receives a growing kit comprising two Jersey Royal seed potatoes a container, polystyrene chips, compost and fertiliser.
The Constables and media entries are judged in two categories: overall weight and the number of tubers grown. Last year Grouville and Trinity shared the parochial honours with BBC Radio Jersey and Business Life taking the media titles.