What is ‘Educate?’
The work under ‘Educate’ seeks to influence the consumers of the future about the benefits of having potatoes in their diet, with an aim of developing ‘life long’ eating habits, through school learning. The programme also helps schools with cross-curriculum activities and learning.
Launched in 2005, Grow Your Own Potatoes (GYOP) was the first major primary school-based growing project. Since then it has become one of the largest of its kind, with well over 2 million children benefiting: learning where potatoes come from, how they grow and that they're a healthy food. It’s simplicity and the fact that GYOP is a practical activity makes it perfect for young pupils. Pupils are given the opportunity to plant and harvest their own crop using seed potatoes, grow bags and online resources supplied to them free of charge.
Following on from the success of GYOP we have now launched Cook Your Own Potatoes (CYOP) an exciting new website which provides a toolkit of Food Technology resources for Key Stage 3 pupils. Created with practicing teachers, the websites provides a bank of resources with everything needed to deliver engaging lessons.
Bill Graham- FACE
There is no doubt that Grow Your Own Potatoes is a flagship project that is really making a difference. The key to its success is that it is just so easy to take part and the project can be incorporated into the curriculum in a wide variety of ways. I look forward to the time when all schools will be taking part in this scheme.
What is the benefit to the industry from this work?
Younger consumers are eating less potatoes than their parents and grandparents. To address this we need to reach them while they are still young and help them develop positive, lifelong eating habits. By making a difference to the way children view food at a young age, we can help shape healthy eating habits that will stay with them as they grow, influencing their diet and purchasing habits in the future. We aim to teach them about the versatility, sustainability, taste and health values of the potato so that they can make educated decisions about their diet choices.
What have been the successes?
- 14,600 primary schools nationwide took part in GYOP in 2013. That’s 75% of all primary schools in the UK
- Industry involvement continues to grow, with different suppliers supplying seed potatoes for the schools to grow and growers assisting with planting and harvesting events
- We've also had continued involvement from agricultural societies, including the Newbury Showground, Three Counties Showground and the Suffolk Showground holding planting and harvesting events
- The Sun newspaper champions the GYOP project and runs regular spots in their gardening pages on a Saturday
- CYOP has now topped 1,000 registrations and been introduced to a quarter of the country's secondary schools
- Reduced costs by working across AHDB sectors
What is the work based on? Evidence….
Research carried out by Dairy Co ranked GYOP as one of the most widely recognised school projects alongside much larger-scale activities. It is also known that children involved in growing potatoes are more likely to eat potatoes both when they are young and in later life.
We are constantly working to improve what we do and as such carry out our own research, including:
- Survey monkey – sent to all schools that register to take part, following harvesting – helps assess awareness of key campaign messages
- Telephone survey to schools for feed back about the project
- Website Search Engine Optimisation report – to maximise visits to the site
- Google analytics –check website visits, click through rates, forwards and open rates for all on line activity
- Working with teachers we constantly improve the schools website to reach them in the best possible way
Paul Field (teacher)
“Grow Your Own Potatoes is fantastic, we’re 100% behind it!”
“This is the first time we’ve taken part and we really enjoyed it. Each of the infant classes had a bag and found the project easy to follow; it is a great way for children to start connecting with their food. The harvesting is magic though, the excitement on their faces is fantastic – as though they were digging for treasure
I want to be involved, how can I do this?
One of the unique selling points of GYOP and the reason it is so successful, is the ability of Potato Council to supply FREE seed potatoes to all the schools that register. As GYOP has grown and developed, seed suppliers have seen the benefit of GYOP at many levels and recognise the opportunities on offer. Eight seed suppliers currently support the project by supplying regional varieties to the schools and funding regional prizes.
Grower Geert Knottenbelt, Luffness Mains
“At a time when concerns have been raised over the long term future of the potato industry, introducing children to potatoes is vital. The Grow Your Own Potatoes project is a great way of doing this and the feedback from pupils made it all worthwhile.”
Can you help the new project in 2013-2014?
- Recruit schools for 2014
- Sign up to be one of the regional seed suppliers. These need to be safe haven accredited, fast growing first earlies seed; suitable for planting at the start of March and harvesting at the end of June.
- Visit your local school to help at planting and harvesting times
- Become a school buddy and liaise with schools during growing period by helping with any questions they may have
- Attend harvesting events being held at show grounds around the country
- Hand out recruitment flyers at industry events
Grower Graham Nichols
“This is a really great project that I’m delighted to be a part of. The hands-on activity is the best way to filter information through to young children – and of course, it’s a fun learning experience. It’s particularly rewarding to see youngsters from schools in large towns and cities getting their hands mucky as they learn what’s involved in planting and growing their own potatoes.
“It is important for the industry to get on board and help change the way children – and consumers in general – think about potatoes, after all it is our business we’re promoting!”
This is a great fun project – get involved, don’t miss out.