New Year and tomatoes

Happy New Year to you! I hope that you will enjoy good health, new opportunities and endeavours – and the support and companionship of family and friends in 2023.

At this time of year in Adelaide we are usually picking tomatoes in our back garden but because we had a long period of cool weather in October and November, some  vegetables are not ready. We’re waiting for those first juicy tomatoes that we’ll eat with fragrant basil. Our tomatoes will probably be ready in mid-January. Not long to wait now!

I’ve been thinking of the group of Veneto market gardeners who established their gardens in what they called the Lockleys area during the 1930s. They arrived between 1926 and 1928 and within a few years they were able to lease land within about two kilometres of each other. The families were able to buy their market garden after the war. Most of them grew tomatoes and beans in glasshouses. Some grew celery and other ‘outside’ vegetables. I reflect on the working lives of the market gardeners at this time of year …

Map of western suburbs of Adelaide c 1930s. Market garden area highlighted in red. Map, used with permission from the City of Charles Sturt.

In this blog you can read very brief details of the men who were the first to migrate and a little about their families. You can view a series of photos of the various first generation of the market gardeners. Thank you to all the family members who have given permission to use their photos over the years.

Ballestrin families

Ballestrin truck, loaded to take tomatoes to Melbourne in a train strike. c 1950s. Clipping, courtesy Frankie Ballestrin.

Three Ballestrin men who arrived in 1927 were brothers, Antonio and Isidoro, and their cousin, Giuseppe who was only 17 years old. Within a few years, other Ballestrin relatives arrived  including another brother of Antonio and Isidoro, Narciso and their mother and youngest sister. The Ballestrin families first worked at Virginia and took up their various market gardens in the Flinders Park area in the early 1940s.

Berno brothers

Pietro & Alberto Berno, Valetta Road, mid-1960s. Photo from ‘La Fiamma.’

The first Berno brother to arrive in Adelaide was Fedele who migrated in 1926 and returned to Riese Pio X after several years. Alberto came in 1926 and Pietro arrived with cousin, Gino, in 1927.  Albino, another brother, arrived later in 1938. Albert and Pietro with their wives, Elvira and Antonietta, worked about 40 glasshouses on Valetta Road before they moved back to Riese Pio X with their families in 1969.

Marchioro – Francesco and Margherita

Francesco and Margherita Marchioro with their first two daughters, Mary and Lina, Adelaide 1927. Connie was born later.

Francesco arrived with his wife, Margherita and daughter, Mary in 1926. They had come from Malo in the Province of Vicenza and were the only married couple in the Veneto market gardener community for the first three or so years. They worked a market garden on Frogmore Road and in 1the early 1940s moved to the other side of the River Torrens at Lockleys where they grew tomatoes in glasshouses. Margherita worked the market gardens with assistance from her eldest daughters when her husband died in 1945.


Marchioro, Vittorio
Vittorio was sponsored by his brother, Francesco, and he arrived in Adelaide in 1927. He worked initially with his sister-in-law, Margherita on Frogmore Road and then by himself.

Johnny and Vittorio Marchioro in one of the glasshouses at Bolivar, early 1970s.

Vittorio and his wife Angelina and children, Johnny and Romano, moved to White Avenue, Lockleys on the other side of the River Torrens in about 1949. Johnny became a market gardener and worked with his wife, Eleonora, for more than 40 years at Bolivar.

Angelo Piovesan

Rosalia and Angelo Piovesan with their sons and members of the Tonellato family, Frogmore Road, c1938.

Angelo Piovesan travelled on the same ship as Secondo Tonellato and Giovanni Santin in August 1927. Angelo worked land on Frogmore Road and also had shares in a mica mine in the Northern Territory where he worked with other Veneto men for some years.

When Angelo died suddenly in 1949 aged 43 years, his sons, Nillo, Dino and Bruno, worked in the market garden with their mother, Rosalia, and their uncle Attilio.

Guido & Brunone Rebuli, Adelaide c 1946.


Brunone Rebuli from Bigolino arrived in 1927 in the company of three Rossetto brothers-in-law. After working on Kangaroo Island working for a farmer, he established a market garden on Frogmore Road near one of the bridges on the River Torrens. His wife Giovanna nee Rossetto and three young children, Dorina, Albino and Elvio arrived in 1931 and Guido was born in 1938. Brunone died in 1947 and older sons, Albino and Elvio, worked the garden for some years.


Giovanni Recchi, Findon Road, 1966.


Giovanni Recchi had arrived in 1927 from the Marche region of Italy and with his wife, Antonia who came from the Campania region. In 1946 with their eight-year-old twins, Aida and Mel, they moved to Flinders Park in 1946 where they had about nine acres. They were neighbours to, and became close friends with the Veneto market gardener families in the area. The Recchi family grew tomatoes in six glasshouses and also cultivated celery and potatoes.



Rossetto family
In 1927 three Rossetto brothers – Gelindo, Adeodato and Angelo and their brother-in-law, Brunone Rebuli, – arrived in Adelaide sponsored by their brother Domenico who had migrated the previous year.

Gelindo, Lina and Romeo Rossetto, Lockleys, c 1931.

Later, four other siblings migrated leaving just one in Bigolino with their ageing parents. Giovanna, the eldest daughter, was married to Brunone Rebuli. Gelindo had land on the southern side of the River Torrens and he also had shares in a mica mine in the Northern Territory. The other brothers had employment in different fields. Gelindo’s wife, Lina, joined him in 1930 and they first lived in a tent on the market garden.

Giovanni Santin was the eldest of the Veneto men who arrived in 1927. He was 41 years old and had already spent about ten years as a miner in Canada.

Costantina and Giovanni Santin, Valetta Road, mid 1940s.

He brought his wife Costantina and his children Luigi, Vito, Romildo and Virginia to Adelaide in 1937. In the early 1940s they leased land on Valetta Road from the Berno brothers before buying the family market garden on Frogmore Road. Their sons worked in partnership with their wives, Rosina nee Tonellato, Anna and Clara on Frogmore Road and moved to land at Bolivar. Vito’s son, Dean and Romildo’s son, Alan also worked with their parents for some time.

Tonellato family c 1947. Back: Lui, Orlando, Rosina, Lino, Albert. Front: Secondo, Assunta, Elisabetta

Secondo Tonellato came from Caselle di Altivole, the same village as Giovanni Santin. It was eight years before Secondo’s wife Elisabetta and their five children, Lui, Rosina, Alberto, Lino and Orlando arrived and the family lived on the market gardens in a train carriage. Assunta joined the family in 1937 after her mother died. The Tonellato family was one of the largest market Veneto gardener families and as the sons came of age, they acquired land and glasshouses and the two youngest worked with their father for some years on Frogmore Road.

Noemi, Renato & Eugenio Zalunardo, Malia Bernardi, Grange Road, c1964

Eugenio Zalunardo had also arrived in 1927 and by the late 1930s he had leased land abutting the Tonellato market garden and was growing tomatoes and beans in glasshouses and some outside vegetables. He married Luigia Ballestrin in 1943. Their daughter Noemi worked in the garden full-time with her father when she left school and after her mother died in 1965. Renato also assisted with the market garden as he grew up.


Silvano (Gerry) Zampin, Findon, late 1970s.

Silvano Zampin arrived in Adelaide in January 1928 – 95 years ago. He had been sponsored by his brother, Peter who died in a car accident in Adelaide in 1930. Silvano married an Irish Australian woman,  Amelia Shaw, and they had nine children. Silvano and Amelia worked a market garden on the south side of the River Torrens for some years before they bought their own property at Findon. After the war, Silvano sponsored his bother, Nico and his wife, Delia who had a market garden close to other Veneto families for some  ears before they returned to Riese Pio X.


You can read more detailed biographies of the first generation of the Veneto market gardener families on their individual pages on the website. You can also listen to interviews, read transcripts and view other family photos. When you eat your next fresh tomato, you might think of the Veneto market gardeners!


Madeleine Regan
1 January 2023

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