The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Alderman Alan Graham, recently returned to his roots - meeting farmer Ivan McKee to discuss the preparations for the upcoming Comber Potato Festival.
Running from the 1st to the 5th July, the event organised by Ards and North Down Borough Council in partnership with Food NI and the Comber Earlies Co-operative, is now in its third year and is becoming one of Northern Ireland’s top food tourism events.
The harvest of the Comber Earlies is a significant time in the Northern Ireland food calendar.
The famous potatoes which have been granted EU ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ are special both because of the unique climate and geographic position of Comber which produces the distinctive earthy, sweet and nutty flavour, and thanks to the expertise and dedication of the farmers who grow them.
The Mayor understands more than most the hard work involved in farming.
He said: “I have farmed all my life, in fact my father and I used to grow British Queens on our farm. Farmers work morning, noon and night in sometimes difficult conditions but this toil is worthwhile when we see the benefits of early yields from local fields.
“The Comber spud has always been known province-wide and thanks to the dedication of the Comber Earlies Co-operative in achieving EU PGI status they are now recognised worldwide.”
Comber Early grower, Ivan McKee, welcomed the Mayor to his farm to see the beginnings of a Comber Earlies crop.
He said: “This is a busy time of year as we look forward to launching and celebrating the Comber Earlies at the Comber Potato Festival. We have experienced some problems this year when a late frost hit during a low tide and this has slowed down the crop somewhat, causing a slight delay. However we are confident we will have the very finest local produce out for the Festival and look forward to visitors coming along to taste our humble spud.”
The Family Festival day on Saturday 4th July provides the perfect opportunity to sample the Comber Earlies at their very best.
For further information visit www.ardsandnorthdown.gov.uk/potatofestival or call Ards Visitor Information Centre on 028 9182 6846.