Novel bread developed in schools’ challenge

Primary school pupils have been learning how to make and sell a novel potato bread, one of Northern Ireland’s traditional craft breads, as part of a ‘Growing for the Future’ initiative to encourage children to grow and enjoy a healthy diet of fresh vegetables and fruit.

Assisted by award-winning bakery and deli, Yellow Door in Portadown, county Armagh, a Food NI member company,‘The Potato Bread Enterprise Challenge’ was developed as a result of the successful ‘Growing for the Future’ resource, an innovative collaboration between Northern Ireland’s Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) and Tourism NI. It’s also a legacy of Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink in 2016.

The successful desk top food entrepreneurs came from McKinney Primary School in Dundrod, county Antrim with a novel sweet potato, bacon and chive potato bread.

Yellow Door owner and respected chef Simon Dougan assisted the pupils in the development of the new artisan bread. As well as creating the new potato bread, the pupils costed, priced and had the chance to sell it in the Yellow Door deli.

The initiative aims to connect children with local and seasonal food – how it is grown and produced – and also to encourage them to consider careers in the fast growing food and hospitality sectors.

The challenge was hosted by Yellow Door and supported by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) and Tourism NI. CCEA advises government on what should be taught and assessed in Northern Ireland’s schools and colleges.

Melanie Mulligan, CCEA’s Curriculum and Assessment Primary Education Manager, says: Through CCEA’s partnership with Tourism NI, we were delighted to be able to bring education and the food industry together.  The ‘Growing for the Future’ resource, available for all schools, allows pupils to engage with issues such as food provenance and sustainability, which are huge issues both locally and across the world.

“The challenge is an extension of this work which culminated in the enterprise challenge intended to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship amongst our primary school pupils,” she adds.

Carolyn Boyd, Industry Development Manager, Tourism NI, continues: “The ‘Growing for the Future’ project was grown from the seeds of the innovative gardener Jilly Dougan who has written ‘Sow, Grow, Munch’ to encourage primary school children to better understand food generally and growing food in particular.

“There is an amazing world of future opportunities in the agri-food, hospitality and tourism sectors in Northern Ireland. If we are to continue to attract global visitors then we need to encourage dynamic young people like we see today into our industry; there’s no better time to encourage an understanding and appreciation for real food, develop a palette and get interested in sustainable sourcing and cooking from scratch than in primary school.”

Yellow Door’s Jilly Dougan says: “We can see that there are emerging food entrepreneurs in primary schools. We were excited by the quality of their submissions and the level of thought that went into these. This is how food innovation works!”

Top Northern Ireland chef Simon Dougan of Yellow Door Bakery and Deli, working with the primary school pupils on developing the novel artisan bread. Also pictured is CCEA’s Melanie Mulligan.