The 17th of September marked the Isle of Ely open day and I was invited down to Cambridgeshire to attend and give an introductory speech to all the other shops and suppliers who were there.

Andrew welcoming everybody to the IOE Open Day

This is the third IOE open day Ive attended and it grows year on year.  Its a great opportunity for shops to learn more about sourcing good quality potatoes but also gain knowledge to pass on to their customers.

Out in one of the fields

Its also a great opportunity for shops to meet and get to know each other better. Quite often other shop owners talk online but its great to meet up in person.

one of the climate controlled box stores

We were given a guided tour of HG Bliss’s Farm.  Potatoes, once harvested, are placed in wooden boxes and put into a climate controlled store.  The boxes allow air to flow around the potatoes and keep them cold enough not to grow, but warm enough not to produce sugar and cook brown.. its a very fine line and requires a lot of investment.

a £280,000 harvester

Back at Isle of Ely we got to see the grading line.  I used to be in the potato business and always enjoyed working on this kind of machinery. Potatoes are passed over rollers to knock off any soil. They then pass over a webbing that has holes designed to let small potatoes drop through.  These can be used as seed or sent to be made into roast potatoes.  The potatoes then pass over an inspection table where any green or damaged potatoes can be removed, or even foreign bodies such as stones or twigs. The potatoes can then be passed over another webbing to take out another size split if required to get the maximum out of the crop.

Hopper feeding the grading/bagging line

Stuart Atkinson posing with the multi head weighing machine on the bagging section

We were also treated to presentations from Middleton Foods, Pukka, ANSUL fire suppresent, Wrapped insurance, Papas Fish and Chips (Winner of Britains Best Takeaway on the BBC), Krispies Fish and Chips (National Fish and Chip Awards – Fields to Frier Winner) and Kingfisher ~Fish and Chips (National Fish and CHip Awards Independent Takeaway of the Year).

It was a great day and we ended with a few beers in Ely on the night.. perfect.