Local Schools Growing for Success with the RHS

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Prodigious Potato Competition Rolled Out to Schools across Hull

• The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) works with Open Futures programme to support schools’ growing competition in Hull
• Young people challenged to grow potatoes at home, with awards for biggest, craziest, heaviest and best presented crops
• Project forms part of wider RHS ambition to provide young people with key horticultural skills

If you asked your average group of primary school children what they enjoy doing in their spare time, growing potatoes might not be the most obvious answer. But for a group of schools in Hull, that’s exactly what’s bringing families together for a bit of friendly competition. Started three years ago by Ings Primary School, the family potato growing challenge has now spread to a whopping 11 schools across the city, and this year’s contest looks set to be the biggest ever, with prizes for best individual potato, craziest potato, best presented group of potatoes and heaviest crop all up for grabs at an award ceremony held at Hull’s Children’s University on 26 June.

The idea for the annual challenge stems from the school’s gardening club, who, inspired by their in-school potato growing successes, came up with the idea to expand the initiative to their own gardens. When head teacher Jonathan Roe threw in the prize of a family carvery meal for the family that grew the heaviest crop of potatoes, the competition was born.

With a focus on learning through growing, the project aims to engage children and their families with growing activities, and strengthen links between the staff and the wider school community. Each class in all 11 schools – more than 3000 children – are growing Red Duke of York first earlies, with each school expected to judge their own class efforts and nominate representatives from each winning class to go to the grand final.

Support for the scheme is provided by the regional development team of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), who in previous years have been called upon to help judge the awards. The RHS team offers expert advice for participating schools, from cheap and easy ways to get started using rubble sacks to how to upscale projects as the competition grows in participation across the city.

Sarah-Jane Mason, RHS Regional Development Officer, said: “The RHS is passionate about supporting grassroots community gardening, and I've been lucky enough to be involved with the Ings School competition for several years now. It’s really encouraging to see other schools in Hull taking up the challenge to get growing, and I hope it will inspire them to learn more about the earthy origins of the things we eat and drink. The best of luck to all the participants - I can’t wait to see the results!”

Ings Primary School Headteacher Jonathan Roe said: “This is an excellent way for our schools to deliver key science, maths and writing teaching to our children, and all in the context of fun and wonder. The fact that this learning is now continuing at home is fantastic.”

Next year it’s hoped that an even more schools will be motivated to participate, and that through this one project the message of how easy it is to grow healthy, organic produce will be delivered to an increasing number of children across the city. If schools are keen to try their own potato experiment in the interim, details on the Potato Council’s annual nationwide competition are available at www.gyop.potato.org.uk


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Sarah-Jane Mason, RHS Regional Development Officer via sarah-janemason@rhs.org.uk

About the RHS
The Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804 by Sir Joseph Banks and John Wedgwood for the encouragement and improvement of the science, art and practice of horticulture. We held our first flower shows in 1820, were granted a Royal Charter in 1861 and acquired RHS Garden Wisley, the first of our gardens, in 1903. From our first meetings in a small room off London’s Piccadilly, we have grown to become the world’s largest gardening charity.

Today the RHS is committed to providing a voice for all gardeners. We are driven by a simple love of plants and a belief that gardeners make the world a better place. 211 years on we continue to safeguard and advance the science, art and practice of horticulture, creating displays that inspire people to garden. In all aspects of our work we help gardeners develop by sharing our knowledge of plants, gardens and the environment.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk/join  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262