25 July 2023
Primary school produce feeds and educates.
FORMER Turriff Show President and grower, Graeme Mackie visited Monquhitter Primary School in the Aberdeenshire parish of Turriff recently, where he met pupils from the school’s Friday Eco-group to plant potatoes in time to harvest at 2023’s two-day northeast Turriff agricultural Show, which take place this weekend (see our events page here).
The potatoes will be harvested on both days of the show and used to create dishes by chef Catriona Frankitti.
Catriona will be the host to the chefs and Scottish produce in Turriff Show’s cookery theatre this year, as part of the EQ Food and Drink marquee exhibition.
Graeme, from Little Hilton Farm, said: "Rolling up their sleeves to plant, care for and watch their food grow gives the children a sense of pride in their work and an enhanced appreciation for the food on their plates. Being actively involved in growing food, demonstrates the work and time farmers put into yielding a crop, making food all that more valuable.”
Monquhitter Primary School already has its own polytunnel growing strawberries, mixed salad leaves, onions, carrots, peas, broad beans, and radishes. Each year-group oversees a raised bed and together, parents, teachers and students get stuck in to ‘plant care’.
Primary Teacher Miss Garven said: “Sustainability is a huge part of our curriculum. Many students learn by doing rather than watching. Growing food of their own motivates children to be more aware of the benefits of eating nutritious foods and encourages them to eat a fruit or vegetable that they may not have tried before.”
Graeme talked to the children about planting and harvesting.
“What we are planting here today is a variety of tatties named ‘Charlotte’ – a salad type with a buttery flavour and versatility for many meals. These potatoes will be ready to harvest in two and a half to three months, in time for this year’s Turriff Show,” he said.
The group of students got straight to work, carting soil from the trailer and into their individual tubs. Recycling empty livestock feed and mineral tubs, Graeme and the children planted the potatoes and levelled off the soil.
“Some children head to the supermarket with mum and dad and that’s where they believe food comes from. It is hugely important for all those involved in agriculture to pass on their knowledge to the younger generation. We are responsible for filling that missing link between farm and supermarket,” Graeme said.
The children helped to carry the tubs back into the trailer and gave Graeme a tour of the polytunnel and raised beds. Once the produce is ready to harvest, theydig it up and hand to the school kitchen to prepare and be used for school dinners.