By Justin Flynn
As the pandemic forced everyone indoors, a group of locals who kept in touch on WhatsApp came up with a novel way of passing time.
The group of 16 friends were given the task of growing a tomato to be entered into a private competition.
Ruth Payne instigated the idea.
“We were in the middle of COVID lockdown and I was on the phone to my mother in the UK and they were not in lockdown at that stage,” Ruth said.
“She said was just going out to judge a vegetable competition and I thought that would be hilarious for us to do.”
And so the inaugural ‘Tomato Heads’ competition was formed.
Prizes were given at the end of the competition in a variety of categories.
Ruth said only a handful of the group were experienced gardeners.
“I know four keen gardeners and the rest of us have never grown anything,” she said.
“They [tomatoes] are surprisingly easy to grow.
“Some of us had a very rocky start. Mine nearly died through over watering because I became a bit obsessed.”
The competition was so much fun the group is going to turn it into an annual event, with a possible ‘winter vegetable’ category to get them through the cooler months.
“We’ve had lots of other people who say they would like to join us next year,” Ruth said.
The group held its presentation ceremony on January 26.
Andy Russell from Lonsdale Tomato Farm judged the entries on the day and provided a $50 gift voucher for ‘Best in Show’.
The inaugural winners were (pictured left to right): Peter Mackay (heaviest tomato), Briony Darcy (worst entry), Beni Turkson (fancy dress tomato), Ruth Payne (best in show), Veronica Moran (tastiest tomato) and Connie Cook (most phallic).