REG Curnock knows a lot about allotments after growing vegetables for four decades.

Now the grandfather-of-14 has been picked as Oxford’s top allotment holder.

The 75-year-old started growing veg for his own children and now delivers fresh produce to his grandchildren across the city.

He owns a plot at Kestrel Crescent Allotments in Blackbird Leys and this month won the Challenge Trophy, the overall award in the allotment ‘Oscars’.

The former Pressed Steel worker, from Brambling Way, Blackbird Leys, said: “I’ve had an allotment for more than 40 years. It’s lovely to know my grandchildren who live locally are all enjoying fresh veg.

“Keeping an allotment is hard work and commitment is key, but without this patch of ground and my vegetables I would just be sitting indoors, watching TV. This keeps me fit and in the fresh air and I can deliver fresh fruit and veg to the family every week.”

Widower Mr Curnock has three sons and three daughters and 14 grandchildren, eight in Oxford, six living nearby in Blackbird Leys.

He said: “You name it, I grow it, everything from potatoes, peas and beans to apples, blackberries and chilli peppers. At this time of year my family are also waiting for the pumpkins I’ve been growing for their Halloween parties.”

His daughter, Veronica Layden, 46, of Redwood Close, Greater Leys, said: “My brothers and sisters ate things our friends had never even heard of, like white sprouting broccoli and celeriac. And our babies were weaned on his pureed fruit and veg. Now some of them are at university but still get sent fruit and veg boxes.

“A few years ago my husband and I got our own allotment and we finished third in the category dad won this year. He’s an inspiration, but even though he is 75 he can still out-dig us any day.”

Seventy-six entrants from 12 allotment sites across the city entered the Oxford Allotment Competition, which is now in its third year and organised jointly by the Oxford and District Federation of Allotment Associations and the parks department of Oxford City Council.

The judges, John Alcock and Mike Kent, looked for plots growing a wide range of vegetables all year round, together with seasonal soft fruit.

Mr Kent, 64, said: “The fields are thriving and all is well on the allotment front. We look forward to welcoming even more entrants next year.”

Awards were also presented in age categories, for allotments newcomers and also for allotment sites, Mr Curnock said: “Last year I won the over 70s category in the competition, but I’ve never won overall winner and I’m thrilled to bits with it.” * For more information and pictures on the other winners, see tomorrow’s Oxford Mail.