Panta Simeonovic and his wife Emilija migrated from rural Yugoslavia to Australia in 1968, and settled in Queanbeyan, east of Canberra. In their garden near the Queanbeyan River, they applied the deep knowledge of vegetable and fruit gardening that they’d acquired in Yugoslavia as children and young adults. Today their backyard is extraordinarily productive, producing a wide range of crops.
Read more about their gardening experiences. (The excerpts below are from an interview recorded with Panta and Emilija in February 2012.)
Listen to Panta's gardening experiences
All my life I’m growing a garden because before we came here we lived on the farm. We grew a lot of corn, wheat, beans, potato, tomato, capsicum – all the garden vegetables.
It was 1968. I came to Sydney, and from Sydney to Canberra. From Canberra airport my friends, who came three months before me, they gave me a lift to here in Queanbeyan. And after one year we bought this block and this garage. We lived in that garage and after built this house.
I try to not use much spray but when I see some insects come, I go and pick it up and kill them – no spray. Because with spray you kill that insect, you kill yourself too with that one because that is poison for yourself. All the time we remember from our grandparents, they say, “Food which you produce is better than you buy from the market”, because they are growing too much for market and they have to put fertiliser and too much spray. They spray because they can’t collect the insects like I collect them. They have to spray to kill them.
They come, all the grandchildren come and they see the old gardening how it’s done. Already they know how that is growing – how potato, how tomato, how capsicum, how beans are growing – everything they know.