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Teaching tomorrow’s producers and consumers: Grow Your Own Potatoes Programme to continue in 2021

Now in its 16th year, the Grow Your Own Potatoes Programme (GYOP) is an AHDB educational initiative that helps children in Britain learn more about where their food comes from, how it grows and the role potatoes play in a healthy, balanced diet. Since it began, it has delivered positive messages about potatoes to more than five million primary school children nationwide.

AHDB announced yesterday the programme will go ahead as planned in 2021 with the support of the potato industry.

Despite Covid restrictions meaning fewer pupils are in school, all parties involved agreed campaign kits should be sent out and GYOP should continue as planned. These include main sponsor McCain, representatives from seed suppliers and the AHDB team.

The unanimous decision comes after primary schools across England, Scotland and Wales already requested more than 14,000 of the 15,000 kits available.

Sue Lawton, AHDB Education Manager, said: “This year we have put together a comprehensive project, including a six-week block of work based around the theme of potatoes, with cross-curricular links to different subject areas designed to help teachers get the most from getting involved.”

The work is designed to fit between planting and harvesting and to align with curriculums in England, Scotland and Wales.

Sue added: “Children can study their potato plants as they grow and learn how to prepare a delicious potato salad when their own potatoes are ready.”

The closure of schools all over the UK as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced AHDB to adapt the GYOP project and create new ways to engage with thousands of children who found themselves being home-schooled.

“Back in 2020, following the first round of school closures, teachers involved in the scheme started putting plans in place to look after their growing plants while they were unable to access their classroom.  A survey shortly afterwards highlighted that 97% of those that responded had managed to do so,” said Sue.

Regular correspondence with teachers, including links to potato related resources on the GYOP website as well as the Food a fact of life website meant that children at home could continue to engage with the project, generating more than 38,000 visits and 93,000 page views.

Teachers and children involved in the programme discussed their activities with AHDB in a podcast.

Schools can still get involved if they complete the registration form before the deadline of 22 January.

Source: AHDB

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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