Pupils learn all about potatoes at education day

Carina Contini cooks gnocchi for Balbeggie Primary School children
Norette Ferns

Over one hundred school pupils enjoyed a potato education day in Perthshire recently.

The event was organised by ADHB and the Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) and was hosted by Bruce Farms in Perthshire as part of their Strategic Farm programme managed by AHDB.

Primary-aged children from Meigle, Balbeggie and Robert Douglas Memorial schools had the chance to find out about all aspects of potatoes and how they're farmed, looking at machinery and technology, nutrition and soils and varieties of potato. 

They also got the chance to dig up some early potatoes and try out some gnocchi - cooked fresh on the day with all Scottish ingredients – by top chef Carina Contini. 

Event co-organiser, Alix Ritchie from RHET, says:

"The pupils gained a real insight into all aspects of potato growing and production and it was a great way to help children make the links about where their food comes. 

"They learned through hands-on activities how science, technology, engineering and maths play an integral role in food production."

On the day each group spent 25 minutes at six different stations. They saw a drone, supplied by Soil Essentials, which took photos of the potato crop from above (and the students too). They explored the effect different soil types have on potato farming and got the chance to check out the different machinery used including a potato harvester, and of course, a tractor.

The event was supported by many local companies including Branston, Soil Essentials, Strathisla Farms and WCF Horticulture.

Farm Manager Kerr Howatson led the machinery session on the day. He said:

"It was a great day, the children were really engaged with all the sessions and we even managed to convert a few who claimed not to like potatoes after they tasted Carina’s gnocchi."

Chef Carina Contini, who co-owns three restaurants in Edinburgh, said:

"What a great day. The sun was shining and Perthshire was looking like a sparkly diamond of our agricultural heart lands. The children were amazing. They were so engaged, inquisitive, attentive and happy. It was wonderful to see first-hand the amazing work that RHET and all the incredible volunteers do to share our real food heritage with the next generations. It really was a potato farm to fork (and tummy) day!"

AHDB is a statutory levy board, funded by farmers, growers and others in the supply chain. Their purpose is to inspire our farmers, growers and industry to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Visit the AHDB website for more information.

The Royal Highland Education Trust (RHET) works with volunteers to provide free educational activities and experiential learning opportunities linked to Curriculum for Excellence. Visit their website to find out more