Fresh success for growing youngsters

CHILDREN from Bucklesham Primary have some spuds they like - after taking part in a national initiative to grow their own.

CHILDREN from Bucklesham Primary have some spuds they like - after taking part in a national initiative to grow their own.

The youngsters at the school's gardening club joined the healthy eating part of the National Healthy Schools Programme and the Grow Your Own Potatoes scheme.

The school received supplies of the seed potatoes in April, planting them in a corner of the school grounds, harvesting them this month.

The potatoes were Vales Emerald, supplied by Greenvale, the largest fresh potato supplier in the UK.

Bucklesham Primary has a thriving number of after-hours clubs and its gardening club is by far the most popular, with 20 out of the school's 100 children joining in the activity.

“We started the club two years ago and it was an instant success,” said teacher Susie Starke, who runs it from February to October.

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“We focus mainly on growing fruit and vegetables, and the object is to help children understand where food comes from.

“The children not only see the food growing, but learn what has to be done to make sure it grows properly, and how to avoid pests eating the food. And they learn just how good food can taste when it's fresh!”

Along the way the children learned valuable lessons - the importance of a fertile soil, of controlling pests, of the right amount of watering, of choosing the right moment to harvest, and, of course, all the hard work involved in cleaning the potatoes and preparing them for cooking!

As harvest time neared, the children noticed an infestation of snails, and this helped them became aware of how pests can affect crop, and how they can be controlled.

Gail Robertson, from Greenvale's seed office in Perthshire, said Vales Emerald was chosen for schools for a number of reasons.

“It gives a good yield, is easy to grow, and tastes particularly good as a new potato, boiled potato or salad potato,” she said.

“It's also got high tuber numbers so you get a lot more potatoes from a single seed, and it matures early - so it's ideal for schools to harvest before breaking up for the summer.”