Sunday, August 24, 2003

Green thumb wins lots of greenbacks

Best Homegrown Tomato: Family pockets $5,000

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP - Susan Linko scored a bunch of cabbage for a little tomato.

Linko, 34, of Harrison pocketed a $5,000 prize Saturday for winning the "Best Homegrown Tomato" contest at the Kroger on Tylersville Road.

She had a green thumb up on the other 153 entrants, who were whittled down to seven finalists before a group of judges put those tomatoes to the taste test. Entries were judged on taste, size and appearance.

Linko said her husband, Pete, takes care of the family's 5,000-square-foot vegetable garden in their backyard. The winning entry was a Cherokee Purple that was grown organically, without fertilizers or pesticides.

So why was Susan basking in tomato glory when husband Pete did the work?

"He had to work this morning, plus I found about the contest," Linko said. "He thought I was just crazy dragging the kids out at 7:30 this morning."

Dr. Merle Jensen, a University of Arizona professor and tomato expert, was one of the judges. Jensen has traveled to more than 70 developing countries to help them grow better vegetables.

"It was really tough (Saturday) because we had so many good entrants," Jensen said. "People in Ohio really appreciate a good tomato."

Are the Linkos planning to expand the garden with the extra green from Saturday's contest?

"I think the garden is large enough," Linko said. "We're expanding the family in January, so we'll probably use the money toward a minivan."



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