Market survivors

COCKBURN’S rapidly-disappearing market gardeners will be celebrated on Sunday April 29 with a day full of history and memories at the Azalia Ley Homestead in Hamilton Hill.

Organiser Duane Sain says he’s shocked by how Cockburn has changed since he was a youngster digging up onions opposite the police station on Rockingham Road.

He reckons the 500 farms during the industry’s heyday are now down to less than 20.

His neighbour reckons this will be his last year as he can’t find anyone interested in taking on the job.

The heritage event is in its seventh year and Mr Sain says they’ll have vintage cars, trucks, old-time machinery clubs, a vintage swap, patchwork quilting display and a tractor parade.

He could hold his own parade as he has one of the best collection of restored tractors in Perth, which includes the family’s first Fiat, purchased in 1962 and still ploughing fields at their latest farm in Wattleup.

• Three generations of market gardeners; Jure (George) Sain with his son Duane and grandsons Jonathon (7) and Markus (6) at their Wattleup farm. Photo by Steve Grant

Unsung heroes

“I started this show to reflect on our ancestors and their achievements,” Mr Sain told the Herald, saying he loves shining the light on the industry’s unsung heroes.

The first Sain to arrive in WA was Marko, a carpenter who’d sailed into Fremantle aboard the Toscana in 1957 from his home in Korcula, Croatia.

Marko worked on a farm in Byford for a year or so before paying for his brother Domenick’s passage across. The pair worked hard and by 1962 had enough money to bring out the rest of Marko’s family.

They rented a garden from Spiro Novak on Rockingham Road for four or five years, before buying their own garden in Hope Valley. But when Alcoa came calling in the late 70s, they sold up and moved to Spearwood, their holding near the shops on Hamilton Road.

Marko’s son Jure still lives there: he built a home for each of his four sons out the back and watched as the gardeners moved out and the builders moved in.

The heritage day on April 29 kicks off at 10am and runs to 4.30pm.

by STEVE GRANT

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