23rd Annual Show

Tasting the sweetcornA horticultural show with a difference: The West Yorkshire Organic Group’s annual show had a slogan ‘Judged as nature intended – on taste’, and that applied to everything.

Entries held up this year despite awful growing conditions because entrants didn’t have to find pristine matching sets of anything. Lumps and bumps, sizes and scars don’t matter when judging by taste. The judges did note that flavours were down on last year in a lot of classes, but that’s hardly surprising when nature’s been overwatering everything! Tomato entries were down as most outdoor plants didn’t stand a chance this year, but there were plenty of potato entries, despite the blight. Could that be because so many blight resistant varieties were available at Potato Day in February?

The Show takes place alongside Saltaire’s festival, so no shortage of spectators viewing the exhibits. They also had the chance to taste some of the prize-winning entries. Margaret McMillan Primary School was delighted to receive ‘Best Under-16s Exhibit’ for their organic onions, and a first-time exhibitor won ‘Best Bread Exhibit’ for his organic cheese and onion brioche loaf. Mrs Begum bravely judged the organic chillies! Entry was open to all organic gardeners and cooks, and one competitor came from as far afield as Stockport.

The Home-made classes aimed to celebrate the use of UK-grown, organic vegetables and fruit in everyday cooking and preserving, and so didn’t demand perfect looks either.  Exhibitors were free to use recycled jars and bottles and to forage for their fruit, and the judges don’t mind if a pasty had leaked a bit, or a samosa was crooked; it just needed to be full of tasty fruit or veg.  It was the Home-made section that provided the ‘Best in Show’ entry: a crab apple and elderberry ketchup.

Visitors made hungry at the sight of so much food on display purchased hot and cold organic vegetarian and vegan meals at the Show Café, which did a brisk trade, and various stalls had produce and information on offer, such as the special offer on pre-order copies of Jack First’s new Hot Beds book.  All in all, a very good day for everybody, especially as it managed not to rain!