Potatoes Charitable Trust: Keeping it real in the regions, with spudlove for kids and adults alike.

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The Methven A&P show was to be 107 this year, but for only the 3rd time in history it was cancelled. The previous two times it was due to the world war, this time it was due to a global pandemic.

The Spud-in-a-Bucket competition carried on despite the cancelled main event, with seed donated to schools by PNZ grower member Richard Redfern and kids in the area set the task of watering and waiting on their entry to flourish.

The sheds at the A&P grounds were empty on the big day, save for a random cyclist tenting overnight and so it was a quiet morning tea, for the weighing and award preparations. The certificates were delivered later in the day to kids at their schools, without the usual fanfare of a crowd cheering, animals on display, farmer events, sausage sizzles or candy floss.

Potatoes NZ Charitable Trust chose to sponsor the small-town, small-grower event this year and it was a joy to see the school kids’ buckets lining up and the faithful crew including Annette & Leslie Maw, Mark Lock, The Redmonds and other loyal spuddies enjoying the slow process of weighing and writing individual comments for each of the 140 entries.

The 3 local schools entering were Methven Primary, Our Lady of the Snows and Lauriston School.

Categories included; heaviest crop, heaviest single tuber, the greatest number of tubers and best quality.

Banter came thick and fast from those surrounding the ute, where buckets were tipped out and shaws weighed.

At a time where so many events, celebrations and community connection has been disrupted, it is reassuring to see that the love of potatoes and teaching the next generation about how to grow this staple food, remains a source of fun.

Here’s hoping that by March 2023, the whole event will return for all to enjoy.

Then at Easter, we saw the culmination of weeks of Central Otago adult spud-growing efforts, this time in the ground. This was the second time the Potatoes NZ Charitable Trust sponsored the event, with the last two years being Covid-impacted, we all had our fingers crossed for the go-ahead in the quiet village of Ophir.

The Ophir 2022 Community Potato Dig provided 40 residents with 146 seed potatoes (Red Rascal). Easter Friday was digging day and went without a hitch, with the potatoes bagged up into 3 kg lots for sale. The auction of the spuds benefits the local community hall and usually makes for a fun dinner and awards night too, but given the current Covid situation in the south, where cases peaked just upon Easter it was decided unwise to hold the auction and potluck dinner in the hall. Instead, PNZ CEO Chris Claridge presented prizes in the open air, to a small crowd, on sunny day. Everyone appreciated the gathering and hearing more about the NZ Potato Industry and sharing laughs and spudlove in general.

With luck, next year Ophir should be back to its normal raucous and much anticipated annual event.

The highly coveted awards were; Weirdest Spud, Lightest Shaw, Heaviest Spud, Heaviest Shaw, and  The Potatoes NZ Cup for the overall heaviest shaw and the “Master Spud Advantage”.

The Potatoes Charitable Trust was established in 2009. The purpose of the trust is 3-fold; to advance the health of NZers by promoting the consumption of NZ potatoes; advancing education within the New Zealand potato industry and advancing research for the New Zealand Potato Industry and communicating it where relevant to the general public.

Trust income is derived from several streams, including royalties from the seed potato breeding programme, and fundraising activities, such as golf tournaments and dinners.