Young Raymond Terrace farmer Archie Slade, 3, 'tickled pink' with Maitland Show watermelon win

BEST MATES: Archie Slade, 3, with his grandfather Peter Slade and the tasty watermelons the pair have grown together.
BEST MATES: Archie Slade, 3, with his grandfather Peter Slade and the tasty watermelons the pair have grown together.

Ask 3-year-old Archie Slade what he wants to be when he grows up and he will tell you without any hesitation that he is going to be a farmer, just like his grandfather.

Farming is in Archie's blood and he proving quite skilled at it, particularly in following the family tradition of growing watermelons. So much so, the little Raymond Terrace farmer won first prize in the junior class for best large vegetable at the Maitland Show.

"He was tickled pink that he won. He had a grin stretching from ear to ear," Archie's grandfather Peter Slade, a life-long farmer from Eagleton, said.

Mr Slade, who was the farm assistant at Irrawang High School for 31 years, is known for his watermelons, grown on his Newline Road farm, just like his father and grandfather before him. He said he was happy to pass along the family tradition to his grandson.

"He's a real gem and a real help on the farm," Mr Slade said of his young helper. "He takes a real interest in what you tell him and he's only 3, almost 4.

"He helped through the entire process of growing this crop, from go to woe. He helped me dig holes, fertilise them and helped me pick the good ones."

It was not a good season for Mr Slade's watermelons.

Due to the drought, he had to hand water them day and night. Then the paddock was hit with strong westerly winds, which he said was unusual for the start of the year, and a huge downpour of rain.

While the rain was welcome, it knocked the watermelons around causing them to lose their nice round shape and saw the paddock grass to shoot up quickly, further embattling their growing environment.

"They're not an easy thing to grow. It's often hit and miss with watermelons," Mr Slade said.

However, Mr Slade and Archie walked the paddocks to find a couple of show contenders. The pair picked a nice-looking 17 kilogram watermelon for Archie to enter into his first show, which took out top place. It earned Archie $2 in pocket money.

"He had quite the story to tell at daycare after he won," Mr Slade said.