Pumpkins and people of all shapes and sizes participated in the inaugural Pumpkin Competition hosted by the Mpophomeni Conservation Group in the Community Garden recently. Nkululeko Mdladla compiled this account of the day.
The first ever pumpkin competition in Mpophomeni was held on a beautiful autumn afternoon. Ntombenhle Mtambo was so happy to see all the competitors coming with their pumpkins to enter the competition – she had this amazing smile on her face as she welcomed them.
I have never heard of such a competition before. Money is not always a prize – today the prizes were organic fertiliser, seeds, frost protection and flower pots to grow their seeds in, sponsored by Hopewells Supplies and TWK in Howick.
Lucia Buthelezi, who not only grows vegetables in her garden, but is also part of Silungiseleni Senior Citizen Project, won the prize for the tastiest looking pumpkin. She commented “I just came from church, hungry and tired but I did not allow my hungriness to stop me from coming to this competition that I heard about. I went home picked up my pumpkin and came to see this lovely garden.”
Ntombenhle gave everyone a tour of the garden, showing them the permaculture way of doing things. “I heard that the Mpophomeni Conservation Group go house to house doing gardens, please come to my house also,” pleaded Lucia, “what you are doing is amazing.”
Sihle Ngcobo, who brought along his Gogo’s pumpkin, laughed “I am very happy that I have also won something. When I saw other pumpkins they were very huge compared to mine, and I thought I do not stand a chance. I even thought of going back home with my little pumpkin. I am happy to win the prize of weirdest pumpkin, next year I am taking the largest pumpkin prize.”
Jabulani Nene was one of the judges. “I thought Ester’s pumpkin was the most beautiful. It was round and orange.” he said, adding “This was a very good event for our community. I think this garden is amazing and now I am thinking of starting one at home.”
Winners in the various categories were (from left): Nokuthula Mjwara for the biggest, Lucia Buthelezi for the tastiest looking, Ester Ntuli for the most beautiful, Tutu Zuma for the funniest (held here by Sbonelo Zuma), Sihle Ngcobo for the weirdest (and least likely to be edible!), Khetelo Mtambo for the smallest.
Hloni Sikhakane came out from Howick for the event and got stuck in helping to water plants and harvest veggies. “This is the first time I have been in a garden like this. It is wonderful, I am really enjoying it and would like to be part of MCG.” She took home an armful of fresh produce.
Lucia Buthelezi was absolutely delighted with her prize “I have never had my own compost or pots, I should have brought my other pumpkins too!” Everyone went home with some garden produce too – spinach, cabbage and brinjals.
“It was a fun filled day. I was very happy to see all the competitors excited about their prizes,” said Lindiwe Mkhize of MCG. Penz Malinga, who initiated and organised the event added “I was so pleased that the Gogo’s, teenagers and even a four year old entered the competition. Many passers-by were wishing they had not already feasted on the pumpkins they had grown.”
I was very happy to spend my Sunday afternoon in the garden, at the competition. I hope there will another pumpkin harvest day next year, with even more people entering.
MCG plan more events like this one to celebrate good home grown food. On August 14th Winter’s Best Produce, and on January 8th Summer Greens and an Imifino cooking contest.
If you get your cabbages and beetroot planted soon they will definitely be ready for the Winter Celebration. Don’t delay, get out in the garden today!