Meet the grower

Meet the grower: Mike Forge

Gisborne Tomato Soup


The pretty little town of Gisborne is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand (lucky them). And this certainly shows in the sweet, juicy tomatoes we use for our Gisborne Tomato Soup. We mix these blood-red, nutritious toms with basil pesto and fresh cream to create a delicious twist on the winter classic! Perfect for a guilt-free winter treat!

We spoke with Mike Forge, the Agronomist at Judco, the Gisborne company that grows our tomatoes. Mike tells us all about his love for veggies and how to grow the tastiest ones!

Where did your love for farming begin?
My love for farming has been life long, having been brought up in this environment and living with the challenges and rewards associated. I can’t imagine doing anything else. It is extremely rewarding growing and supplying a product that is sought after, looks, smells and tastes fantastic, but also knowing the nutritional values are as good as can be produced.

What signifies a good quality tomato?
A vibrant red colour is always a good indicator. A quality, fresh tomato should be firm to the touch and not have any brown or soft spots.

For first timers that might like to start growing their own veggies what are some top tips on getting started?
If someone is wanting to produce their own veggies, they must have a desire and passion to do so, as it can take some dedication. Good soil, plant nutrition, sunlight and water are all the key elements needed.

For people that haven’t visited Gisborne, can you tell us why it’s so special?
Our district is unique compared to many. We have fertile flats that have built up over millions of years to supply a soil that vegetables thrive in. We have mild winters and warm, sunny summers which are generally supplied with regular sprinkles of rain. This, in conjunction with a beautiful coastal outlook, produces a fantastic product, plus a pretty cool little place to live in.

What do you see as the five pillars of farming for successful crops?
As above, the key elements for successful crops are, healthy soils, balanced fertilizer if required, sunshine, good water, attention to detail through the growing cycle and the passion to produce a quality product.

Why would you recommend buying local produce?
Why would anyone NOT want to eat fresh produce from New Zealand’s own backyard that has been grown with passion and dedication? It’s a no-brainer. Local produce is always the best tasting and most nutritious.

Favourite and least favourite vegetable?
Very hard to pick a favourite! They are all wonderful. If I was really forced to pick, it would be tomato first and kale last. Everything else, foremost and in between is fantastic!