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

Christmas traditions and the end of the year

Christmas traditions

In Italy the nativity crib is called a presepe.  It is a three-dimensional scene of the stable with figurines that include Mary, Joseph, shepherds, people from everyday life and the three wise men. The size of the nativity scene can vary and may include buildings and features that display an entire village and rural landscape.

The presepi are usually displayed in Italian homes and churches from 8th December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, to 6th January, the feast of the Epiphany. Presepi are also displayed in piazzas, shops and other public areas. The figures can vary in scale from miniature to life size and in many families, preparations for the presepe begin a long time before it is displayed. In some villages, the local council holds competitions for the best presentation of a presepe.

Presepe created by Irene Zampin, Caselle di Altivole, December 2022. Photo by Irene Zampin.

Irene Zampin who lives in Caselle di Altivole creates her own presepe each year and spends a lot of time planning and organising the scene for the nativity story. She sent photos to show this year’s model which she began working on in October/November. It is made of pieces of cardboard cut from boxes. The bushes and palm trees are made of felt and she bought the figures.  Irene cut the polystyrene balls in half and sprayed them with gold paint. It took Irene about a week to put the presepe together. She says: “I enjoy doing these things and they give me lots of satisfaction.”


You can watch the short video below (about 1.5 minutes) made by Irene that shows the presepe she created this year. You will be able to appreciate the intricate details of the scenes that she has designed for the presepe which is in her house.

Christmas tree made by volunteers in the municipality of Altivole. Photo by Irene Zampin.



Irene has also been involved with a volunteer group in her local area who made Christmas trees from crocheted squares. The group of women was organised by the Mayor of the Altivole municipality who is a woman.  The group made three trees – one each for the villages of Caselle, Altivole and San Vito in the municipality.  The Christmas trees are 280 cm high and each one has around 300 crocheted squares.  They have been placed near the churches.





Vivian Miotto has also sent photos of presepi near where she lives at San Pietro di Feletto in the province of Treviso about 60 kilometres north of Venice.

Presepe at Segusino. Photo by Vivian Miotto.
Presepe at Cison di Valmarino. Photo by Vivian Miotto.

Looking back on 2022
In this the final blog for 2022, it’s an opportunity to look back on the year …

I’d like to acknowledge two people who were interviewed for the Veneto market gardeners’ oral history project and who died during this year:

  • Lina Rismondo nee Marchioro died on 15th January 2022, aged 94 years
  • Lino Tonellato who died on 4 September aged 95 years.

The website
I’d like to thank Michael Campbell and for all the work he undertakes in his role as administrator of the website which involves daily security checks. Michael has designed the website and he maintains it to ensure that it continues to be accessible and available to a wide group of subscribers.

Thank you to the following people who wrote blogs for the website this year:

  • Irene Zampin, 3 and 17 April
  • Rosa Parletta nee Balestrin, 8 May
  • Aida Innocente, 22 May
  • Raoul Pietrobon, 25 September
  • Remo Berno, 9 October
  • Anna Mechis nee Rebellato, 23 October
  • Anna Baronian nee Carniello, 20 November.

I am also grateful to Amanda Rossetto and Raoul Pietrobon who contributed to the Veneto market gardener families and friends gathering on 22 October. Their presentations provided those of us who were there with new insights into Veneto families and their experience of migration to Adelaide in the 1920s and the generations who followed them.

Finally, I wish you all a happy festive season and I hope you enjoy Christmas and New Year celebrations with family and friends. With all good wishes for 2023.

Madeleine Regan
18 December 2022


Three generations of interviewees

In my research I’ve studied three generations of the families who were part of the close Veneto community who established market gardens in the years between the wars in the area we now know as Kidman Park and Flinders Park. At that time the families called it Lockleys.

The first generation were the people who emigrated from the Veneto region in the 1920s and 1930s and established market gardens at Lockleys after their first years of struggling to find work in the Depression years. The women who were married and arrived in Adelaide later were also members of the first generation. The children who migrated with their mothers are called the 1.5 generation – neither first generation or second generation. The second-generation people were born in Australia. The majority of people interviewed for the Veneto market gardeners’ oral history project are second generation.

In this blog I focus on four interviewees who represent three generations. All the interviews are held as permanent records in the State Library of South Australia and are also available on this website under the Pioneer Family list – Marchioro, Vittorio.

Two voices of the first generation
The first generation is represented by Vittorio Marchioro and Angelina Marchioro. Vittorio, from Malo in the province of Vicenza, arrived in Adelaide in 1927, the same year that several other of the Veneto market gardeners migrated. At that time he was 21 years old and after some time of struggling to find work, he worked on a market garden on Frogmore Road with his brother and sister-in-law, Francesco and Margherita Marchioro. After being in Australia for ten years, he wrote to his sister in Malo and asked her to recommend a young woman that might be interested in marrying and migrating to Adelaide. Angelina Marchioro from Monte di Malo (no relation to Vittorio) accepted the invitation and the couple were married by proxy in August 1938. Angelina was 20 years old when she arrived at Port Adelaide in January 1938. She remembered that she went to work in the market garden only a few days after arriving.

Angelina’s Italian passport, 1937. National Archives of Australia: A435, 1946/4/6303.
Marchioro family – Angelina and Vittorio, Romano and Johnny, Frogmore Road            c 1947. Photo, Lina Marchioro.


I was excited to discover the interviews with Vittorio and Angelina in the State Library about four years ago. They had recorded their stories in 1984 for a project about migrant people in South Australia. In the interviews Vittorio and Angelina reflect on their history and life in Italy and their experience in Adelaide and working together on the market gardens first on Frogmore Road and then on White Avenue Lockleys.



A 1.5 generation representative
Johnny Tormena was born on 29 November 1927 in the village of Bigolino in the province of Treviso and grew up in the first years of Mussolini’s reign. His mother’s family were actively anti-Fascist and eight of nine siblings migrated to Australia between the wars. In 1940 when he was 12 years Johnny arrived in Adelaide with his parents and sisters in 1940 a few months before Italy joined Germany in the Second World War.

Tormena family. Back: Johnny and Maria Rosa Front: Severina and Galliano. Adelaide, mid 1940s. Photo supplied by Maria Rosa.

In his interview Johnny recalls life as a school boy and the influence of Mussolini in daily life and contrasts it with his experience of going to school in Adelaide and his coming of age as a young working man. Johnny was interviewed ten years ago. You can find his interviews on the Rossetto family page under the Pioneer Families list on this website.

A second-generation daughter
Lena Moscheni nee Rossetto was born on 8th December 1932 in Adelaide, the daughter of Gelindo Rossetto and Adelina (Lina) Bordin. Gelindo had arrived in 1927 from the village of Bigolino and Lina had been born in Biadene. He  married Lina by proxy in 1930. Lina migrated in 1931 and settled in the Lockleys area with Gelindo working a family market garden.

Rossetto family, Adelaide, c 1937. Lina and Gelindo, Aldo, Romeo, Lena.


In her interviews recorded in 2014, Lena speaks about her parents, her family life and growing up in the west end of Adelaide, memories of the Veneto market gardeners and the interactions with the wide group of Rossetto relatives. You can locate the interviews with Lena on the Rossetto family page under the Pioneer Families list.



The collection of interviews
The collection of interviews for the Veneto market gardeners’ oral history project has continued to grow – (OH 872 series in the State Library of SA). At present there are more than 60 interviews which record the history of the Veneto market gardener community at Lockleys, a number that were recorded with people connected to the market gardens and several interviews with people in the Veneto region.

It’s really fortunate that the voices of Vittorio Marchioro and Angelina Marchioro, the only representatives of the first generation were interviewed 38 years ago and have been preserved for the future. It is wonderful that so many other people – 10 people in the 1.5 generation – and more than 30 second generation family members have recorded their memories of growing up on the market gardens. Through their interviews we learn about the life of the Veneto market gardeners, the experience of migrant families and the close-knit community that they developed in the inter-war years – and that continues today through the generations and networks of families and paesani.

Madeleine Regan
4 December 2022

PS –  First cousins , Johnny Tormena and Lena Moscheni nee Rossetto, celebrated significant birthdays recently. Johnny turned 95 on 29 November and Lena enjoyed a party in November to celebrate her 90 years!

Johnny Tormena, Adelaide, November 2022. Photo, Madeleine Regan.
Lena Moscheni nee Rossetto with her granddaughter, Jenna. Adelaide, November 2022. Photo supplied by Amanda Rossetto.
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