HAPPY GROWER: Kev Peters from Leichhardt with one of his massive tomatoes. He grew it for the start of State of Origin.
HAPPY GROWER: Kev Peters from Leichhardt with one of his massive tomatoes. He grew it for the start of State of Origin. Rob Williams

A growing passion for vegies keeps 85-year-old going

KEV Peters has had a passion for growing things since he was a boy and his love of cultivating vegetables has never waned.

His speciality is tomatoes - specifically the massive bullock's heart or beefsteak variety.

"I started growing things when I was six," Kev from Leichhardt said, his face and voice lighting up as he starts his story.

"I asked my mother if I could grow a garden of my own and next day my father went into town in a horse and sulky and bought me a packet of radish seeds. I've always loved gardening and this tomato we've been going 80 years with the same seeds as my father.

"I'm the 13th of a family of 15 so I'm a long way down but I had six brothers and they all did the same; showing throughout Queensland and New South Wales. I've got packs of winning prizes everywhere. But I judged a lot too in my time.

"This is a barren old hill this is. It's been built up with stuff the council used to dump down the gully. And I done it with chooks; we've always had chooks - and a bit of grass clippings in with it.

"I've always kept chooks. I used to keep more and I'd like to keep more but the bending over - I should have grease nipples now. I'm only 86 though. Well coming up I'll be 86. Getting old, you don't know when he's going to ask me to walk the ladder."

The past few years, he said, he's been getting a few aches and pains but hasn't slowed much.

"I said to Enid, my good wife, if I can just keep growing that one," he said. "At one stage I smoked and I had to have a heart operation but my doctor Dr Jennings said: 'Kev, all your other body parts are great'.

"He was reared on a farm too before he went doctoring and he said: 'That's because you use all organic matter'."

Always jovial, Kev often drops in to the QT office to give tomatoes to the front counter ladies. He also loves going to the Coronation Hotel nearby.

"I like to go up and have a bet. I do all right. When I'm not gardening I find it's just as well to hop on the bus and go up there," he said. "It keeps my mind active. I can't have a lot of beers. I tell the doctor I have two."

How many do you really have?

"Six," he answers without missing a beat.

"But light ones. And I don't have to drive the bus home."



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