Britain honors memory of man known as the'potato wizard'

April 25, 2013 at 3:59 PM
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ANTRIM, Northern Ireland, April 25 (UPI) -- The Northern Ireland home of a man known as the "potato wizard" who helped develop Britain's most loved potato is now a historic site, officials said.

The Ulster History Circle said a plaque would be unveiled at the north Antrim home of John Clarke to commemorate his work, the Belfast Telegraph reported Thursday.

Born in 1889 near Ballintoy, he left school at 12 to work on the family farm until a fascination with potatoes and their breeding began in his teenage years.

Long days researching and experimenting led to his ultimate recognition as an expert on potato breeding and growing.

He produced dozens of varieties beginning in 1936 and the most widely grown potato in Britain, the Maris Piper, is the "grandson" of one of his varieties.

The Ulster History Circle worked with Britain's National Trust to fund and place a commemorative plaque on Clarke's home, circle Chairman Chris Spurr said.

"Between us, we are all delighted to celebrate John Clarke with this permanent reminder of his life and achievements," he said.

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