SpudFest returns to Sopwell schools

Children involved with Grow Community - Sopwell with the free seed potatoes.

Children from St Peter's and Mandeville primary schools involved with Grow Community - Sopwell with the free seed potatoes for SpudFest. - Credit: Grow Community - Sopwell

A local food growing group is celebrating the humble potato with its spring SpudFest initiative.

The Grow Community - Sopwell group is distributing seed potatoes donated by Aylett Nurseries to schools in Sopwell ward, including St Peter’s and Mandeville, with the aim of encouraging more people to grow their own food.

The schools will pass on the seed potatoes to families to "have a grow", together with advice and tips for successful growing.

Kate Swindells, founder of Grow Community - Sopwell, said: “Spuds are so easy to grow – they can be planted in the ground, a pot, or even an old compost bag with holes poked in the bottom for drainage.

"Cover them with compost or earth up to 30cm high, keep it watered, and when the leaves die down in the summer, the potatoes are ready to harvest and eat. It’s like digging for treasure!”

This is the second year that Ayletts have supported this initiative from the food growing group, which proved very popular with local schools during last year’s Covid lockdown.

St Peter's School headteacher Gillie Young said: "We are thrilled to be taking part in SpudFest again this year. It’s great for St Peter’s pupils to be getting involved in growing their own food and encouraging their families at the same time. Grow Community - Sopwell is a very worthwhile initiative that can inspire our school children to think about food, and where it comes from."

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Grow Community - Sopwell also runs a community food garden on Berners Drive, where local residents are invited to join the regular weekly working parties at 10am on Thursdays to help with digging, sowing, watering, and general garden duties. Over Easter the group will be running a stall with wildflower seed bombs and a variety of seeds available for local people.

Kate added: “Gardening is great for health and well-being, but now more than ever we need to think carefully about food security. Everyone can help by supporting vulnerable groups, local food growers, sustainable food growers and having a grow yourself.”