Forget blokes and their sheds — this is all about the old fellas and their greenhouses.
Seven years ago a group of Teviot Valley retirees started ‘‘skiting’’ to each other about who had the best tomatoes.
A plan was hatched to put people in their place and prove once and for all who was the best grower — but results were not as expected.
The competition has now become an annual fixture held the same time as the Mt Benger A&P Show,
Retired farmer Owen Perkins, who relocated to Wa ¯naka last year, said the competition was the only way to determine who had the best tomatoes.
‘‘We all knew they were bull…….g so we thought there was only one way to settle it — and we got an awful shock.’’
The group and an impartial and allegedly bribable judge take a day visiting each other’s greenhouses and comparing their produce.
It is serious business with each judged on the health and yield of the crop and colour with the most important factor — taste, holding the greatest weight.
While it is a serious business, that has not stopped some underhanded tactics from taking place — one year tomatoes were sown on to a vine as a test for the judge at the time.
Visiting each others greenhouses was a ‘‘wake up call’’ for them all, Ken Bain said.
‘‘But going around each property we all got tips to help us grow better tomatoes in the future.’’
Along the way dressing up became part of the requirement.
‘‘It started as well as a fun afternoon and a get together, just to take the pressure off growing these good tomatoes — some of them started wearing wigs and so John’s probably the weirdest one here, so he started it and it’s just grown,’’ Mr Bain said.
A trophy was custom made by wood-carver and occasional judge Murray Sheppard, giving the winner more than just bragging rights.
‘‘It was felt that they needed something so being a sculptor and wood-carver it was felt I could do something and this is the result of a wee bit of work.
‘‘We’re looking for a name for it so if you can come up with one . . .that would be great,’’ he said.
This year the competition came down to the wire, with only four points in it, but in the end it was Mr Ormand’s tasty tomatoes that came up trumps — much to his surprise.
‘‘What caused that, Perky?’’, he asked the judge.
‘‘You gave me the biggest bribe,’’ was the reply.