With their incredible flavours and wonderful variety of shapes and colours, heirloom tomatoes are the antithesis to the bland, tasteless tomatoes that fill modern supermarket shelves.

They’re the tomatoes our grandparents ate, in the days before hybrid tomatoes – bred for looks and transportability rather than taste – took over.

Farmers tend to avoid heirlooms because they can be a tricky crop, but local growers Stuart and Amanda Fox believe they’re worth the effort.

“They’re really labour intensive, have less yield than hybrids and they ripen very erratically,” said Stuart.

“But they just taste so much better.”

On their Newrybar property, Fox Farm, Amanda and Stuart grow a colourful collection of heirlooms with equally colourful names; from Black Russian, Purple Calabash and Green Zebras to Big Whites, Tropics, Thai Pinks, and Yellow Pears.

“There’s just so many different flavours, “ said Stuart, “that’s another reason we did it. There’s a lot more interest. We could just fill the tunnels full of hybrids and it would be easy, but it’d also be boring. You get the same tomato all the time. You see I get excited when I see the new variety we’re growing and then you taste it and think ‘oh that’s fantastic.’

All of Fox Farm’s tomatoes are grown organically, a rare approach among tomato growers as they are a crop highly susceptible to pests and disease, but Amanda and Stuart decided from day one that organic was the way to go.

Amanda and Stuart also grow small crops of organic garlic and asparagus – the latter of which is virtually impossible to find elsewhere.

Amanda says the reception to their produce at the markets has been fantastic.

“The feedback has been amazing. I’ve had heaps of customers who came the first week we were there and they just keep coming back.”

“It actually makes it all worthwhile”.




• Story and pics by Kate O’Neill.