BY HAND: Lester Roy hand weeding tomatoes with a Dutch hoe.
BY HAND: Lester Roy hand weeding tomatoes with a Dutch hoe. Picture Bundaberg

ACQUIRING TASTES: Simple staples had mouths watering in past

AN EXOTIC array of fancy fruits are grown in Bundaberg these days - think dragonfruit, avocados and lychees - but there was a time when the most humble of crops got foodies going in Bundaberg.

In his 1986 book The Growing Harvest, Neville Rackemann writes of brothers Merv and Eric Bauer's first crop of Yorkshire Hero peas.

The lads' father had just purchased a new Chevrolet Six tourer car and this was commandeered to transport the crop.

The back seat was taken out of the rear of the car, which was filled with peas and then driven from Kalkie to Bundaberg and parked at the Grand Hotel corner.

Up went a sign offering quality peas at one shilling per two-gallon bucketful.

Eric and Merv did a roaring trade, as did a nearby grocer, kept busy selling brown paper bags for two-a-penny to allow people to take the peas in.

Zucchinis are a mainstay in many people's vegetable crispers these days but they were for the adventurous when the first crop was grown in Bundy.

Italian brothers Mario and Attilio D'Addario began growing smallcrops almost as soon as they bought 350 acres at Meadowvale in 1956.

Their father, Adolfo, had worked on a farm at Monto as a prisoner-of-war, and migrated to Australia after the war ended, followed by his sons.

They decided to plant a small plot of zucchinis, given their familiarity with it, using Yates home garden seeds.

The harvested crop was taken to Alf Chave's market, where no one knew what the long, green things were.

Those game enough to try them were pleasantly surprised and demand grew to the point the D'Addarios needed bulk seed delivered by Yates.

Clearly as skilled in the kitchen as on the farm, Mario gave Rackemann a recipe using the crop's flower, long before they became a highly sought-after ingredient.

"Get a zucchini flower - yeah, the flower - nice and beautiful ... You know, a big flower. You then cut her in half and you beat up a couple of eggs; dip the zucchini flower in the egg and fry it. Ah ... beautiful!”

Not only did Bundaberg's zucchini industry grow - the crop was second only to tomatoes in 1985 - but so too did the D'Addarios' operations.

In 1986, 30 years after they bought their first farm, they delivered 100 tonnes of zucchini, 80 tonnes of capsicums and 50 tonnes of cucumbers to Master Foods for processing.



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