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4-H introduces sweet potato challenge

Franklin County 4-H is rolling out a new opportunity this year with the Sweet Potato Challenge.

“I am excited about this new project. Alabama 4-H just announced it last week,” said Franklin County 4-H Extension Agent Janet Lovelady.

Franklin County participants must attend a class about growing sweet potatoes and register for the project April 22 at 5:30 p.m. at the Extension office in the courthouse. There is a $10 registration fee.

May 2 students will get four sweet potato plants and a 4-H Sweet Potato Project Journal at County Round-Up that day. They should then plant the sweet potatoes at home as soon as possible. In the journal they will record their gardening experience through photographs and written entries.

The challenge ends in September, when participants will take their sweet potato harvest and journal to the Extension office for an official weigh-in. The date for this official weigh-in will be announced in August.

According to the Extension service, sweet potatoes like to grow in loamy, well-drained soil with a pH of around 6. Sweet potatoes are considered a “superfood” and a great source of beta-carotene. They can be grown in different ways: either in a garden, a raised bed or a large container.

The entire plant is edible, including the flowers, leaves and vines.

Any youth age 9-18 years old can participate in The Sweet Potato Challenge.

This is part of one of the newest Alabama 4-H programs called 4-H Grows. Lovelady said Franklin County 4-H will incorporate more of the 4-H Grows curriculum in the 2019-20 school year.