Are these organic Royals the best Island potatoes?
THERE is great rivalry among the Island’s farmers over whether potatoes grown in the east taste better than those from the west – but a St Ouen grower is convinced that his are the best.
Former fishmonger Chris Vautier is combining his part-time day job at a marquee company with growing Jersey Royals on a small patch of family-owned land overlooking St Ouen’s Pond.
He is boldly claiming that his crop, hand-dug every day and sold in paper bags from a nearby roadside honesty box, are the best new potatoes he has tasted for years.
He says his father, Roy, who has been involved in growing the Island’s premier crop for most of his more than 90 years, agrees.
‘We started digging them three weeks ago and have about three-quarters of the field left to dig,’ Mr Vautier said. ‘All the work has been done by hand, it’s all organic and we haven’t used any pesticides.
‘They are really fluffy and I think the taste is the best I have tasted in 50 years. I’ve had fantastic reports from people who are buying them who say how nice they are.’
The venture is a real family affair as Mr Vautier’s son, Josh, and his daughter’s partner, Paul Hymas, are helping him.
Mr Vautier believes the quality of the crop lies in the soil condition, as the field in Les Hautiveaux – which translates as ‘the best growing land’ – has lain fallow for more than 50 years.
‘Nothing has been growing there except ferns, which die back every year and go into the ground which has made it very peat-like so it is beautiful ground to grow potatoes in,’ he said.
Compared to the big growers, whose combined crops cover tens of thousands of vergées every year, Mr Vautier’s patch covers just four perch. There are 40 perch (pèrque) in a vergée.
‘This is a trial as I decided to try growing potatoes organically to see how it goes and if it works out I will grow more next year,’ he said.