Veneto market gardener gathering

On Saturday 16 January 2021, a group of about 40 people met in the Mater Christi hall at Seaton. They were relatives and friends of the Veneto market gardener families. The pioneers established their market gardens in the1930s in the area they used to call ‘Lockleys’ near the River Torrens now known as Kidman Park and Flinders Park.

This was the first gathering we had held since the Corona-19 pandemic. Representatives of eight pioneer families were present and enjoyed the slideshow of 250 photos of people in the Veneto market gardener community. Families have given permission to use the photos and you can view them in the Gallery section under each of the Pioneer families on the website.

Johnny Tormena, Maria Tormena, Aida Innocente

It was lovely to see so many people of different ages. The eldest guest was Johnny Tormena aged 93 years and the youngest was 12-year-old, Clara Belperio who came with her 14-year-old sister, Madeline. They accompanied their grandparents, Lina and Lui Campagnaro. Madeline and Clara are great-granddaughters of Narciso and Maria Ballestrin. They were able to learn a little about the history of the community of the Veneto market gardeners and they also met up with Ballestrin relatives. Laura and Belinda Piovesan, daughters of Bruno and Graziella, were also present and spoke to me about their interest in family history. It was good to welcome Alessia Basso from the Next Gen group of the Veneto Club and members of Trevisani nel Mondo.

Aida Valentin nee Recchi, Assunta Giovannini nee Tonellato, Mary Piovesan, Connie Legovich nee Marchioro. Second row: Graziella Piovesan, Maria Ballestrin, Louis and Fay Ballestrin. In background, Kelli Ballestrin, Madeline & Clara Belperio

The focus of the formal part of the afternoon was the Veneto market gardeners’ website – what can be found on its family pages and how the website can be maintained in the future.

A special feature of the website is the opportunity to listen to the interviews recorded with members of the community who remembered life on the market gardens from the 1940s to the 1980s. Linda Zamperin nee Tonellato told the gathering that when one of her grandchildren said that she could remember what her nonno, Albert Tonellato looked like but was not able to remember his voice. Linda took her granddaughter to the computer and played the recording of the interview with Albert which had been recorded in 2008.

Diana Tonellato, Linda Zamperin nee Tonellato, Jimmy Ballestrin

In his interview, Albert remembers what it was like in Italy before the family was reunited with his father, Secondo, in Adelaide in 1935. He also gives details of life on Frogmore Road, the market gardens, family life and holidays. If you listen to Albert’s interview, you could also hear the recording with Mary made on the same day in 2008. In addition, on the Tonellato family page, you’ll find interviews recorded with Lino Tonellato and Adrian Tonellato and Assunta Giovannini nee Tonellato. Sandra Conci nee Santin also shares information about her Tonellato grandparents in her interview which you’ll find on the Santin family page.

At the gathering, the participants assisted with identifying people in photographs. Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo had found some photos recently in her father’s collection and it was fun to listen to the many voices who joined in the processes of detecting who were the people in the photos.

Angelo Piovesan also presented to the gathering. He spoke about his appreciation of the website and what he has learned about the Veneto community of market gardeners through reading transcripts of interviews and blogs about different families. He explained that it has become like an archive of the history of the community and that it was important to maintain it into the future.

Front: Luisa Beltrame nee Ottanelli, Eleonora Marchioro nee Ottanelli Back: Belinda Piovesan, Angelo Piovesan, Laura Piovesan

As usual the catering was wonderful! Thank you to everyone who brought food. Thanks also to the people who assisted with the arrangements, Anna Mechis, Marie Sloan and Kay Lochiel.

Madeleine Regan, Christine Rebellato nee Mattiazzo, Anna Baronian nee Carniello, Aida Innocente



Variety makes the range of blogs more interesting and it would be great if more people could contribute blogs. This year you can expect to read a range of different blogs – about Veneto families – and I know that two people who will write about the customs of making wine and making salami. Please contact me if you would like to write a blog in 2021.

Madeleine Regan
All photos: courtesy Alex Bennett
24 January 2021



One thought on “Veneto market gardener gathering”

  1. Che bella riunione dei giovani – vecchi australiani di origine veneta. I’m glad to see that after all these years, the interest is still there for everyone involved with your research. It opened up a world of emotions that, thanks to you Madeleine, will remain as histororical documentation. Keep up the good work on website, as this will help all of us to remain in contact.
    God bless you and your family. Remo Berno

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