Jersey school children, media, constables and Women’s Institute branches will be getting their green fingers at the ready as they prepare for the annual Genuine Jersey Royal Potato Growing Competition. Thousands of local amateur growers will be battling it out, each with their own winning growth formula, to see whose crop can produce the largest number of potatoes and the heaviest weight.
The event will be gripping the Island for the next few months as competitors look to nurture a bumper crop, to be presented at the Grand Weigh-In due to be held at St Mary’s Parish Hall in early May. 7,550 children took part from primary schools last year, celebrating the humble Jersey Royal and enjoying the excitement of growing your own vegetables.
Each competitor receives a growing kit comprising two Jersey Royal seed potatoes, polystyrene chips, compost and fertiliser – and a bucket to grow them in. The Royals are judged against two sets of criteria, the weight once removed from the bucket and the number of individual tubers grown.
John Garton, Chief Executive of Genuine Jersey Products Association, is looking to stir up even more enthusiasm for Jersey’s most famous export with this year’s competition.
“For many this competition is the highlight of their social calendar and a great, fun event that brings together thousands of Islanders of all ages.
“As well as celebrating the Jersey Royal, this is a chance to educate people on the benefits of a healthy diet, growing their own vegetables and supporting local Jersey producers. There is a great deal of pride linked to Jersey Royal potatoes and it is important that we pass this down to younger generations.”
Last year the Constable’s trophy for most tubers (43) went to Deirde Mezbourian of St Lawrence, with Shelia Le Var of Trinity’s WI taking the prize in her category (46). These were both beaten by the school’s winner, as D’Auvergne Gardening Club 3WA produced the largest crop of the competition with 50 tubers.
Gallery magazine shared the media title with ITV Channel, but will face stiff competition to retain this crown with more entrants joining the media category.
The Channel Islands Co-operative Society have supported the event for the last three years, with stores and staff members participating in their own category of the competition. In addition to the Co-Op as main sponsors, the competition is also supported by Belles Fleurs Garden Consultancy & Plant Supply and The Jersey Royal Company.
Colin Macleod, Chief Executive Officer of The Channel Islands Co-operative Society, said:
“The Potato Growing Competition always brings great furor to the Island and the Co-Op are thrilled to once again be associated with the event. As a retailer, we are eager to support our local producers wherever possible and are immensely proud of the place that Jersey Royals take on our shelves.”