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Dennis helps keep shows on the road

Sandwell | | Published:

Top quality grower Dennis Turner is at the forefront of the campaign to keep alive the local shows for fruit, flower and vegetable growers amid fears that more shows could be lost for ever.

Top quality grower Dennis Turner is at the forefront of the campaign to keep alive the local shows for fruit, flower and vegetable growers amid fears that more shows could be lost for ever.

In recent years a number of local events for exhibition growers have gone to the wall amid a lack of dedicated organisers and the increasing costs of hire costs for venues.

But people like Wall Heath grower Dennis, who is a top organiser and exhibitor, are working to keep the local shows open to the thousands of people across the area who love to pop into the local event.

His local show organised by Wall Heath Horticultural Guild is one of the most friendly and well-attended in the area and attracts some of the very best of local growers year after year.

"It has been very sad to see some of the shows being cancelled, especially really excellent ones like the Lye and Wollescote show which was a very popular one with vegetable growers," he says.

"We are confident that we can keep ours going because there is an excellent community spirit in Wall Heath and we have top local exhibitors like Derek Smith, Richard Briers, and Ron Marsh competing against each other.

"We are fortunate to have so many really good growers but also a wonderful group of people who work together," he adds. "Only this week the guild got together for a lovely friendly Christmas party."

Dennis and his wife Kathleen are secretaries for the local show and he reckons that it is the mix in the schedule which helps to keep things going.

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"We have classes for handicrafts, cookery, vegetables, flowers as well as a section for children and flower arranging organised by Wall Heath Flower Club," he says.

He is especially keen to grow leeks, onions and celery and the other day I bumped into him in Wednesbury where he had called to talk things over with the top onion and leek grower Jim Dirden on his allotment.

Already he has Welsh seedling blanched leeks and a tray or two of pot leeks starting their life which will end up at Wall Heath show next year.

But although he grows lovely leeks and excellent onions, which he sows every year on Boxing Day, he is known especially for his long, long carrots and parsnips which win all all kinds of shows.

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"I grow the carrots and parsnips in those big 45-gallon barrels which I fill with sand and then bore holes which I cover with compost," he says. "It is a bit nerve-racking though because you can never see what you have got until you pull them for the show, unlike onions and leeks which you can see developing on the plot."

He has just finished emptying the barrels and has time to reflect on his successes this years, including a trio of parsnips at the top Sandwell Horticultural Show which were so good they were the talk of the other exhibitors. "They were Medwyn Williams strain and they were very clean and smooth and I was proud of them," he says.

He loves to get around the other shows at Sedgley, Wombourne, Clent and the wonderful Sandy Lane and Northicote Farm shows in Wolverhampton.

"It is a way of life for us all really. I have been at it since I was about six years old because I used to go with my father who would carry our exhibits on foot from our place at Netherton to a show at Dudley Town Hall."

Sadly, most of those big town shows have gone but people like Dennis and his dedicated wife are determined to keep the shows on the road.

By Ken Tudor

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