Heirloom tomatoes grown on a beautiful bush block.

Cheryl McGaffin grows extraordinarily good tomatoes on her farm at Tyabb on the Mornington Peninsula. It’s a relatively small and seasonal affair, with McGaffin growing over 220 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, some of which have evolved naturally on her 7-hectare property.

The tomatoes are planted at the beginning of spring in large beds of incredibly rich earth, fertilised with compost, green manure, and a little organic manure she collects from her own horse. The tomatoes are grown inside tall tubes of steel mesh that support the vines and allows insects to pollinate the flowers.

From December to May each year, she grows, harvests, and packs tomatoes that range in colour when ripe from deep green to purple to orange to red. Some bear names like Alice’s Dream, Conqueror of Hearts, Spears Tennessee Green, and Noir de Crime. “I only grow tomatoes that thrive here,” she says. McGaffin sells her tomatoes from her farm gate and to a select few restaurants and a handful of high-end food retailers.

While the potager-style tomato garden itself is a work of art, the surrounding garden is truly remarkable. McGaffin has planted thousands of native trees, grasses and vines. The result is regenerated native bush that is filled with scores of different birds, many of which act as a flying squadron of pest controllers, plucking insects from the air and pecking out grubs that would otherwise attack the tomatoes. A babbling brook running at the base of the garden is filled with frogs and dragonflies.

“We have a great climate on the Peninsula for growing vegetables,” says McGaffin. “The produce not only looks great but tastes amazing.”

Product: Heirloom tomatoes