Friday, April 23, 2021
Every year dry spring weather heralds the picking of the Jersey Royal potato. Fields around the island but particularly those that border St Ouen's beaches profer these wonderful tubers. These small, yellowy spuds with their thin skinned buttery loveliness are famous around the world.
Usually, dependent on the terrain, labour intensive picking invites itinerant labourers to our shores. Each parish declares their spuds as the best to be found.
In these pictures you find both Poles and Filipino's working in the Spring sunshine. I hope they reflect the dusty reality of their work.
Once a staple of the island, this particular crop is now under threat. Numbers of growers, years ago in the hundreds, now just total just eight. It's a stark reminder of how farming in general is on the decline. A lack of supportive governmental funding or support, the difficulty in accessing the right fertilisers, a reduction in fresh blood (the young see no future in farming) and difficulties in sourcing labour are all cited.
Growing the same crop year on year in the same soil also gives rise to concerns.
For the moment we can still enjoy the fruits of their back breaking labour.
Later as the field sizes increase harvesters are brought in.
Buy a small bag from the roadside, wash their tender skins under running water, slough with your thumb should you wish, boil or steam with a sprig of mint to perfume the water, and serve with a large slice of salted butter. Delicious. Eaten cold the next day with cold ham, they still retain that buttery delight and yield a perfect bite.