Europe, UK, Ireland, Varieties

Spud celebration: Royal potato growers celebrate milestone anniversary

Jersey’s potato growers are celebrating a special anniversary this year to mark the moment an ingenious farmer turned a few misshapen potatoes into a premium British crop. This spring marks the 140th anniversary of Jersey Royal potatoes, an agricultural icon with a quintessentially Jersey heritage. It is the only stem vegetable in the British Isles with Protection Designation of Origin status, like Parma ham, champagne and the Cornish pasty. The long success story and staying power of the Jersey Royal began with a fluke of nature, when St Helier farmer Hugh de la Haye acquired three ugly and misshapen potatoes, displayed in a town merchant’s shop window to amuse passers-by. He decided to cut the tubers into 16 pieces, leaving each with an ‘eye’, from where shoots sprout to turn a potato into seed. Mr de la Haye planted them in a small côtil above Bellozanne Valley, and when they were ready to harvest in 1878, he discovered to his delight that the curiously kidney-shaped progeny tasted fantastic – like no other new potato he had sampled. Today, Mr de la Haye’s land is farmed by The Jersey Royal Company, the Island’s biggest potato grower. Read more

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