There was no person, or tomato, left behind in Dresden this weekend.
No One Without A Tomato was the event and it involved volunteers distributing the bountiful fruit to all the houses in town.
The spark for the idea was an urgent situation at Platinum Produce in Blenheim. The greenhouse was left with thousands of tomatoes after demand from restaurants plummeted during the COVID lockdown. It wouldn’t be long before the whole crop spoiled.
But relief came when a post by the owners asking for help went viral. Hundreds of people came to buy flats of tomatoes and one Shrewsbury resident even went around town delivering them door to door on a golf cart.
The support caught the attention of Dresden resident Ginny Hawken. She put the call out to local businesses to see if they’d support a mass tomato purchase. They were quick to oblige and on Friday night Hawken and volunteers picked up thousands of tomatoes from Platinum Produce.
The next day several groups of people were out making the home deliveries. “In Dresden we always have a surplus of people that really want to help and volunteer and give up their time for the community,” says Hawken.
“People reached out and said hey how can I help, other ones liked or said they were going to the event on Facebook and I knew them so I reached out to them and said is your family busy on Saturday, would you like to do your street?” says Hawken. “And they were like yeah, what else are we going to do!”
Hawken also made sure the kids were in on the activity. “I reached out to my kids’ teachers in town and said hey would you promote this and help me, I want the kids to get involved and pay it forward to their neighbours and show that it’s important to help one another,” she says.
“So let’s all put pictures of tomatoes in our windows. It’s something for the kids to do and then something for them to be able to look for when they’re walking down the streets of Dresden,” says Hawken. Chalk art and window pictures were seen around town throughout the day.
“We really just want to drive the point home that it’s a neighbours helping neighbours initiative,” says Hawken. “It’s not just we’re giving you a tomato because you need to eat, we’re giving you a tomato because we want to show you kindness and show you that we care about you and know how you’re doing and that we’re all struggling right now.”
“It’s really not just about the fact that it’s a tomato, it’s we’re all helping each other out and we’re all in it together still, a year later,” says Hawken.
Alex Kurial, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Independent