Potato Saga

Potato Farce

Beauport potato farce 1992 to 2092

 

The idea of dumping potatoes at Beauport Bay must have been the biggest environmental mistake that 

Jersey's Agricultural Committee had ever made. Or do you know better?

 

Whoever thought up the idea of dumping thousands of tons of freshly dug potatoes on a field above the beautiful 

Beauport Bay because of a glut should have been sacked. In 1992, potatoes growers in the island were not 

able to export all they grew. Whereas in the past they would have rotovated or ploughed in their surplus

 potatoes crop. That year the authorities decided that to avoid diseases such as blight spreading around the 

island and the soil on their land being polluted, they would get the potato growers to lift their surplus crop and 

dump it at Beauport Bay. Over many years growers had disposed of their own surplus crop in their own way, some

 would have dug them and made a heap in the corner of a field for them to rot and others would have ploughed

 them in. I understand that the growers were paid around £30.00 a vergee for their effort.

When I first heard about the potatoes that were going to be dumped above Beauport Bay, I was horrified to 

think of the consequences. The idea was to bury the potatoes in deep trenches and wait for them to rot. 

As it turned out some of the trenches were dug up to eighteen feet deep.

The Agricultural Department had employed a haulage contractor to undertake the excavation of the trenches 

and the growers were already arriving with huge tractors and trailers and lorries with their potatoes when 

I first saw what the new dump. The contractor started digging in the ground with large diggers. The top soil 

was a sort of gravely sand about eighteen inches deep and the subsoil, can't really call it soil, it was loose

 rock. The diggers scraped the top soil off and placed it to one side and the rock beneath was dug out and 

was heaped up on the side of the field.

It was quite scary to think what was going on, it was like a nightmare. I took a walk over the proposed 

area that was going to be used for dumping and I noticed that there were a couple of large damp

 patches with tall grasses and weeds growing in them. I guessed that they must have been active springs.

 I went across to a small copse of bushes nearby and broke off a small branch so that I could do water 

divining. I wanted to confirm my suspicion. I was right, there was a very strong pull on my divining branch, 

there was water just beneath the surface.

 

They would not listen to me.

I went along nearly every day to monitor the progress on the dump. I contacted as many inferential people as I could. I contacted the Tourism Office and the Public Health Department, I spoke to the Constable and the Deputies of our parish of St Brelade. I spoke to at least eighteen members of the Jersey Government. I had a positive response from only five of them, some others laughed at the idea of stopping the dumping, telling me that I was concerned unnecessarily. At my request, a few met me on site to see, as they put it, "what all the fuss was about."

I asked Agriculture's Laboratory Department what the water/juice content of a Jersey Royal potato was and they sent me a report giving me the information that it was 96%.

I thought that it was totally wrong of the local growers to dump onto a headland without thinking what the results would be. With good husbandry and local knowledge, I was disappointed that they would have allowed themselves to be persuaded to dump their potatoes at Beauport.

I contacted the media and had a 100% response, especially from the Jersey Evening Post with one of their senior reporters. That reporter and I kept the public at large fully informed as to what was going on up at Beauport for the next twenty months.


You can just see the rotten potato juice on the beach 

 



Below is a close up view of potato juice on the beach. I had been told by the Jersey's Agricultural department 

that the dark patch was rotting seaweed, nothing to do with the potatoes.  What do you think?

 

 

I did not believe that it was rotting seaweed

 



These tanker trailers were waiting to be filled up with crushed potato juice. They were sited for a year 

on the car park overlooking the bay, in my opinion the most beautiful bay in Jersey.

 

 

Crushed potato juice, the smell was horrendous. At that time I thought that that deep hole was not adequately 

protected and public passing nearby with children or animals could have easily fallen into it.

 

 

This trailer transported the forty feet long tank.

 

 

The tank below was installed in the hole under the car park, it was to replace the tanker trailers. 

 



The potato dump was very near to luxury homes, a bit close for comfort. The damp patch on the bottom left 

of the picture is one of the water springs that I discovered soon after the first trenches were dug.

 


 


Jokes were made about the potatoes

  

This item is © Jersey Evening Post

 

The were not laughing then, they saw it was nothing to sniff at.

  


This item is © Jersey Evening Post

This trench is over eighteen feet deep 

 This item is © Jersey Evening Post

 

I had estimated that the contractor had carted over ten thousand tons of shale and rock away from the site. 

I did suggest at the time that the shale should be stockpiled nearby so as it would replace the potatoes 

when they had rotted in the trenches

 

 

This item is © Jersey Evening Post

 

 

This item is © Jersey Evening Post

 

This item is © Jersey Evening Post


The tanker was dumping the potato juice from Beauport Bay within a few feet of the inlet to 

the desalination plant supplying the whole island with drinking water.

  

This item is © Jersey Evening Post

 

This item is © Jersey Evening Post

 

 

This item is © Jersey Evening Post

 

 

This item is © Jersey Evening Post

 

 

This item is © Jersey Evening Post

 

 

 

 

Anything up to 10,000 tons

Jersey's Agricultural Committee admitted that 4,000 tons of potatoes were dumped on the headland 

above Beauport Bay in 1992.But what they did not tell us was that, as much again was carted to the site 

after their staff had finished counting the loads for the day and they had gone home. The owners of properties 

near the site and people living on the route leading to the site told me, and I saw it for myself, that t

here were as many loads of potatoes heading for the site after five o'clock as there had been before.

 

They will never learn

Another thing that they did not tell the public was that they had dumped hundreds, possibly a thousand 

tons of potatoes on the headland just a short distance of away, about three hundred yards from the large 

site only six years before. The potatoes had been dumped onto a shallow ditch and covered over with a 

mountain of earth. The idea was that the potatoes would rot away to nothing. Well you do not rot potatoes 

like that, what on earth possessed them to create a clamp to rot them. The Agricultural Committee thought 

differently. What had been a well tried method used by farmers and growers for hundred of years, they used

 that system to STOP them from rotting for many months.

Admittedly some of the potatoes in that clamp did rot, whether it was by crushing them when they were 

being dumped or the damp had got into the clamp. The juice from the potatoes found its way, a distance of 

about thirty yards over the cliff face and caused an awful smell for the residents in the area. Overnight 

the area had become an environmental success. Millions of black-fly had ascended onto the cliff face and 

into the homes nearby.

When after six years of the potatoes being in that clamp and not having rotted, they decided to remove 

them and bury them with the others over on the new site. As the potatoes were being carted away, I picked 

some of them off the ground to find that they were as fresh as the day that they had been dumped there six 

years before. In fact one of the many politicians that had met me on site, came along with me to see the 

condition of the potatoes for himself, he could not believe that how fresh they were. He cut one or two potatoes

 with his penknife and was surprised to find that they were perfectly eatable.