Grayshott Gardeners’ Potato Championship 2020

Although Grayshott Gardeners could not hold their Summer Show, no pandemic was going to stop them holding their annual “Potato Championship”, albeit in a different location from usual and with a different judge. With a total of 13 entries, all bagged, labelled and delivered, the number exceeded what we have had in a normal show for several years.

This year the variety chosen was the First Early potato “Swift”, supplied by Avalon, Hindhead. Members entered into the spirit of the competition and added an element of fun. One exhibit came as a basketful of small potatoes, just like a nest of eggs resting on shredded paper. Another had a potato decorated with the “COVID19 Rainbow”!

Who, it was asked, will judge?

In the absence of a qualified judge from the RHS Register of Judges, in this less than usual year, Mavis Hallt was invited to judge. The cup for the “Potato Competition”, the “Mike Hallt Cup”, was donated in memory of Mavis’s late husband, a keen vegetable and potato grower. With no previous experience, Mavis reluctantly accepted the invitation.

On the day of judging, the potatoes were laid out, 3 per plate, as in the schedule, on a table in the open air to comply with “safe distancing”!

Mavis arrived complete with Mike’s copy of the “RHS Horticultural Show Handbook” opened at the page for “The Judging of Vegetables – Potatoes”, detailing the merits and defects to be considered and the “Advice to Judges”.

Mavis had taken the invitation very seriously and clearly done her homework beforehand. The “Advice” included a checklist of criteria to be taken into account when judging potatoes and a weighted points scoring basis on which to judge Condition, Uniformity, Shape, Eyes and Size (not being of main importance). Once Mavis had carefully looked at all 13 entries, she made a shortlist, each one of which was diligently scored against the RHS checklist. When marked, Mavis then reviewed the scores to ensure her marking was consistent. The process provided a result:

1st Mary Herbert

2nd Leslia Farnfield

3rd Gordon Rae

4th Helen Deighan

As Helen Deighan, last year’s winner, had returned the cup, the opportunity was taken for Mavis to “informally” present the cup to Mary Herbert who had called in to look at the entries. A photo of the “arm’s length” presentation was taken!The cup will be engraved and formally presented to Mary at a future GGs’ meeting when, hopefully, we are back to something nearer normal.

Thank you to everyone who entered this one-off “fun” 2020 competition, which has helped to keep the GGs going in this long period of “lockdown”.

However difficult, “where there’s a will …!”

Now for the ‘blind’ tasting…