The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme

How potatoes came to Orkney

Tradition tells us that it was at Cannigall Farm that the first potatoes were eaten in Orkney.

Cannigall overlooks Scapa Bay and a ship that had anchored there had potatoes onboard. The captain came ashore and gave the farmer a small bag of potatoes, possibly as payment for butter and milk.

He instructed the farmer how to grow them and the careful farmer put the bag on top of the bed to await planting in the spring time.

Now, one evening, a courting couple sitting by the peat fire put a few potatoes into the fire to try them. They did not leave them in long enough and were not impressed by this new product, so threw them away.

A few weeks later, the couple were once again sat in front of the fire and decided to try a few more potatoes. This time they were disturbed by the old farmer when he came into the kitchen. They fled and only came back when the coast was clear.

They expected the ‘tatties’ to be burnt, but instead they had cooked perfectly and they enjoyed their supper immensely.

When spring arrived, the farmer duly came to plant his crop and could not understand how he had so few tatties left in the bag for planting!