Now in its fourth year, the award-winning competition is organised by the Jersey Royal Company, supported by the Genuine Jersey Products Association and the States of Jersey Health Promotion Unit. Entries have grown considerably since the first competition was held in 2007 when 75 classes from 19 schools competed. This year 191 classes from 26 schools have been growing potatoes in buckets and studying Jersey Royals since growing kits were distributed back in January.
It is not just children who have competed this year; nine parish Constables took up a parochial challenge and for the second year running there has been a hotly-contested competition among the local media. Last year the Jersey Evening Post news team grew the heaviest crop.
Jersey Royal Company’s commercial manager William Church said: ‘‘The company is delighted with this year’s record-breaking entries with more schools and children involved than in previous years. We are also looking forward to seeing how the Connétables and the media fare in their contests which have certainly generated community interest in this year’s crop as well as being a fun experience for all the competitors.’
The winners will be announced on Friday 28 May at a special ceremony being held at the RJAHS headquarters in Trinity, starting at 11 am, where judging of the Constables’ and media entries will take place live and on air as it is being broadcast by BBC Radio Jersey and 103 FM. The Chief Minister, Terry Le Sueur, will present the prizes to the winners of all three competitions.
The schools competition is designed to teach pupils about more than Jersey Royals and potatoes as a staple food. It also shows how things grow, where food comes from, the history of the Jersey Royal and the importance of a balanced healthy diet. Since January the 191 competing classes have been involved in nurturing the plants and learning about related topics in geography, history, science, English and maths classes. Music has also played its part with Peter Mac’s repeated playing of the Potato Song making it a popular request on 103 FM.
Last year Bel Royal School grew the heaviest crop. Teacher Jess Doyle said the children and staff were hoping to repeat their winning success.
‘Our potatoes have been carefully tended with our secret formula,’ she said. ‘The bucket is feeling heavy and the leaves are dying back nicely, so hopefully all the energy is being put into making a great crop.’
The Chief Executive of Genuine Jersey Products Association, John Garton said: ‘We are delighted to support a competition that not only teaches young Islanders about the growing cycle of Jersey’s premier export but which also emphasises the historical and economic importance to the Island of the Jersey Royal.’
Last year’s media champions, the Jersey Evening Post News Team, are confident of retaining their crown.
Reporter Carly Lockhart said: ‘Despite a potato rustler thieving our original crop from the JEP car park at the start of the competition, we are on track to retain our title. Our new bucket of spuds, although a month or so behind the other competitors, is looking impressive. We have high hopes to win again this year.’
Judging in schools takes place from Monday to Thursday. The judging panel comprises from the Jersey Royal Company: Catherine Vint and Ian (Toots) Le Brun; Dr Karen Le Cornu from Health Promotion; farmer Wilfie de Gruchy – who grew potatoes on the same côtils in Bellozanne Valley where the original Jersey Royal Fluke was developed in 1878 - and John Garton.
Schools Judging timetable:
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
9.15 am - Grouville First Tower Mont Nicolle
10 am Janvrin Bel Royal La Moye
11 am Helvetia Samarés St Lawrence Les Landes
Noon St James St John St Peter
1 pm St Luke’s Beaulieu JCG St George’s
2 pm Trinity Plat Douet VIC Prep St Christopher’s
2.45 pm St Martin Grands Vaux St Michael’s Rouge Bouillon
4 pm FCJ
The competing parish Constables are: Simon Crowcroft (St Helier); Mike Jackson (St Brelade); Len Norman (St Clement); Dan Murphy (Grouville); Deidre Mezbourian (St Lawrence); Silva Yates (St Martin); Ken Vibert (St Ouen); Peter Hanning (St Peter) and John Gallichan (Trinity).
The competing media are: JEP News Desk, Channel’s Oscar Puffin, Peter Mac from 103 FM, Sara Palmer and Carrie Cooper from BBC Radio Jersey, Ben Davies from Gallery and Alasdair Crosby of Business Brief, assisted by his son, Ned.