Over 200 school children from Cambridgeshire returned to the East of England Showground to harvest their potato crops with Kids Country, with Wisbech St Mary Primary School, Newark Hill Academy and Orton Wistow Primary School all taking home the prizes.
In the morning, Wisbech St Mary Primary School won the best overall school harvest, whilst Newark Hill Academy won the best (heaviest) individual crop. The afternoon session saw Orton Wistow Primary School win both the best overall school harvest and best individual crop prizes.
With a real focus on letting children get their hands dirty, the event was supported by local fresh produce businesses, Burgess Farms, Albert Bartlett and G’s Fresh, helping the children harvest their crops and learn about and taste freshly grown salad respectively, whilst local Fenland potato farmers, Farmer Luke and Farmer Clive Abblitt, walked children through the history of potato farming locally. Co-operative Central England ran a session to help children learn about making healthy choices whilst also tasting some of their potato salad.
The children all planted their potatoes with Kids Country – the East of England Agricultural Society’s education initiative – back in March, with the task of taking them back to school or home and looking after them until harvest time.
Charlotte Hubbard, Early Years Teacher at Newark Hill Academy, said: “Having worked hard to take care of their potato plants at home, our children thoroughly enjoyed returning to harvest their crops. It was a very rewarding experience, even more so for having one of our pupils win the prize for the heaviest crop of potatoes! The morning was well-organised, and the hands-on experiences really enabled our children to recognise the value of home-grown produce and learn all about maintaining a healthy and balanced diet.”
Charlotte Dowding from G’s Fresh said: “It is so important for us to be involved in educating children where food comes from, for them to get their hands dirty, grow some vegetables, and for many, eat lettuce for the first time.”
Caroline Williams, Agronomy Manager at Burgess Farms, said: “We are really proud to support the ‘Grow your Own’ initiative. It’s good to see the event supported by so many local schools and give children a chance to have some hands learning experience of how our food is grown. “
Sandra Lauridsen, Kids Country education manager, says: “The Grow Your Own Produce harvest day is always a highlight for the children, as well as our amazing volunteers and supporting organisations. It was great to see the children so eager to harvest their potato crops, before taking them home to eat with their families – what an experience for them and one we hope they will do again.”
Sandra continued: “2022 has been a brilliant year so far and we are really looking forward to delivering more events for primary schools in the second half of the year, especially our Food and Farming Day on Friday 1st July, which we have had to run as a virtual event for the last two years. We have over 2,000 school children already signed up to attend at the East of England Showground; it’s going to be magical this year – the children and our educators have really missed it.”
The Central England Co-operative has a long tradition of giving back to the community, and we welcomed the opportunity to make a real difference to the lives and education of local children.Karen Ball Member and Community Relations Officer, Central England Co-operative