There was much excitement at the weigh-in of potato crops, planted in Holy Week and harvested on Sunday the 21st July after Mass at St. Edward the Confessor Church, Sutton Park. The competition, the brain child of parishioner Terence Nagle, started nearly 20 years ago and each year raises money for the church’s Lenten projects. This year the competition raised £206 for the Nutrition Centre Orphanage, Phom Penh, Cambodia. No doubt over the years Terence’s inspiration and labour has raised literally thousands of pounds for those in need.
Seed potatoes are purchased from the parish at £3 each or two for £5 and planted during Holy Week. This year the potato variety was The Duke of York and it
produced a fine harvest. Only one seed potato to a pot is allowed and the pot must measure no more than 12 inches in diameter. There are two categories which are judged: under 16’s and adults. Much of the fun of the competition is down to the use of an old imperial weighing scale with weights, which Terence manages with aplomb. Other accoutrements in the ritual of the weigh-in include the parish wheelbarrow, leather gloves and a couple of gardening sieves. All in all, a real team effort takes place.
This year the weigh-in happened ahead of the St Edward the Confessor BBQ. There were 10 entrants in the under 16 category whose collective harvest weighed in at 11lbs 4ozs. The winner of the heaviest crop was Fanella Lamont with a total weight of 2lbs. Congratulations Fanella on winning a £10 book token.
There were 18 adult entrants. The collective harvest weight was 19lbs 8ozs. The winner of the heaviest crop in this category was Floris Frederick with a total crop weight of 2lbs 6ozs. Floris was awarded a bottle of Prosecco D.O.C. Well done Floris! There was a consolation prize for the lowest crop weight by any entrant. This was an adult. The prize, much to the amusement of Fr Roy and others present, was a much heavier 12.7oz bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate bearing the message: “You’re the Best”.
A spin off to the competition this year was the further enhancement of Fr Sebastian’s already excellent command of the vernacular. Asked to kindly announce to parishioners that people should bring their ‘spuds’ to Mass next Sunday for the ‘weigh-in’, he was perhaps wondering what arcane and historic aspect of the Catholic liturgy in England and Wales this might be that involved culinary activity at the end of Mass. Fortunately, Fr Roy sent him a photo of the spud weigh-in to dispel any lingering doubts and fears.
The competition is a great opportunity, especially for children, to learn about nurturing and growing their own vegetables. There appear to be a wide variety of strategies adopted each year in a bid to win the competition, everything from the use of sheep poo water to using the rubble left behind by the builder. There is, however, a more spiritual side to this endeavour. Planted in Holy Week, ideally on Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross, the potato plants and their crops symbolize His and our rising to new life. How we nurture that seed of faith and live our lives in relation to others bears fruit in due season. It really is a call not to be a couch potato!