Spring and sum­mer in New Zealand rep­re­sent all of the best things about our coun­try, in­clud­ing new pota­toes.

NZ Grower - - Your Levy At Work - By Gemma Car­roll CHRIS CLARIDGE Chief Ex­ec­u­tive

New sea­son's bounty launched

Camp­ing, pic­nics, bar­be­ques and so­cial­is­ing al­ways mean great food.

It’s the time of year where our sweet­est pro­duce is abun­dant with new pota­toes as pop­u­lar as straw­ber­ries, and with as much nos­tal­gia and tra­di­tion sur­round­ing them.

It was with all this in mind that the Novem­ber Means New Pota­toes (NMNP) event was cre­ated last year. This time around the idea was to cre­ate a fes­tive am­bi­ence, sim­i­lar to that of the Beau­jo­lais fes­ti­val in France, but on a smaller scale of course. There were spe­cial potato-es­que canapes, an ur­ban foody lo­ca­tion, live mu­sic (French ac­cor­dion­ist, Tracey Collins), celebrity guest chef, Annabelle White and quite pos­si­bly the first ever blind tast­ing of new pota­toes in the world!

The idea was that dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties would be iden­ti­fied by taste, colour and tex­ture, af­ter those at­tend­ing met and in­ter­viewed grow­ers ear­lier in the night. Among the prizes were some gor­geous potato-themed art, from Hawke’s Bay artist, Bernard Winkels, a potato en­thu­si­ast of Dutch and Ir­ish her­itage. There was a re­laxed yet cel­e­bra­tory mood all night and it was an op­por­tu­nity for mem­bers of the New Zealand Guild of Food Writ­ers to meet potato grow­ers as well as for those grow­ers to have their mo­ment in the spot­light to de­scribe spe­cial char­ac­ter­is­tics of their par­tic­u­lar pro­duce and share sto­ries of their potato farm­ing busi­nesses. Although fresh pro­duc­ers tend to be a hum­ble bunch, their sto­ries are rich and stretch back gen­er­a­tions.

The four com­mer­cial grow­ers who made the jour­ney to cen­tral Auckland to cel­e­brate the new sea­son were; Balle Brothers, Gropak, Oak­leys and A S Wil­cox. It is hoped next year the fes­ti­val will grow a lit­tle broader and more grow­ers might join in the fes­tiv­i­ties.

Gemma Car­roll is com­mu­ni­ca­tions and en­gage­ment man­ager with Pota­toes New Zealand.

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