by Mark Cirillo and Sylvia Diodati
For millions of Italian-Canadians, gardens are a source of deep passion and pride. The fruits of a garden are the result of hard work, patience and devotion.
Generations ago a garden had a more pragmatic goal (grow what you need and eat what you grow). Nowadays with the world (and food) at our fingertips, gardening has become a bridge to the past.The second and third generations are quickly rising to the challenge with spades, trowels and rakes on hand.
Panoram Italia rolls up its sleeves and tips its garden hat to the past generation of gardeners and to those who follow in their footsteps.
Joe D’Alto/St. Leonard
Joe D’Alto has been gardening for 35 years. His favourite thing to grow is hot peppers. D’Alto says it’s important to add manure, “zappa” to the earth to help feed the plants. He says it’s equally important to “keep your garden orderly.”
Rochina Di Bella/Rivière des Prairies
Rochina Di Bella has been dabbling in gardening since she was 10 years old. “I used to help my parents garden in Sassano, Salerno where I grew up, but I started gardening on my own when I came to Montreal in 1968.” Her best gardening tips are to never use pesticides, and to make your own compost. “I add eggshells and use anything organic I can find.”
Mario & Remo D’Alesio/Côte-Saint-Luc
Since Remo D’Alesio was young, and living in Italy, he had sheep and lived off the land. “My father died when I was seven and I took on more responsibility in the garden. What I take from the ground I put back, like the stalks, leaves and all the stems. I chop them up and place them back in the garden as mulch, and then add manure.”
Rosa Vommaro/St. Leonard
As far back as she can remember, Rosa Vommaro’s parents were always gardening. Today, she continues the tradition in her own garden and loves growing cucumbers and green peas.The secret to her garden is not watering in direct sunlight or using sprinklers. She only waters at the foot of the plant.
Mario Pallotta/North York
For Mario Pallotta, gardening is more than just a hobby. “I treasure gardening,” says Pallotta, now 74. “My mother was a lover of gardens, so to keep her happy after my father passed away I started gardening with her and I never really stopped.” He adds, “it became a therapy for me.” Pallotta cultivates various crops including cucumbers, zucchini, hot peppers and flat beans.
Vincenzo & Vicky Trichilo/Mississauga
While busy running his hair salon, Vincenzo Trichilo left his Missis- sauga garden in the hands of his father for many harvests. “He lived just behind my house, and he would come garden everyday,” recalls Trichilo. “Since he passed away 15 years ago, I took over.”
The father of four shares his love of gardening with his wife, Vicky. “I love the vegetables from the garden, especially the green beans simmered in fresh sauce.”
Enzo Frati & Gina Bruni/Toronto
Shortly after Pasquale Bruni passed away in 2016, his family realized his wife Gina would need help maintaining the family garden. In her search for help with the garden, Bruni and her daughter Diane met urban farmer Enzo Frati. The arrangement is simple: Frati helps Bruni maintain half of the garden, and grows his own vegetables in the other. There’s an obvious respect and admiration between the two generations of gardeners who have learned things from each other.
Pasquale & Carmela Galardo/Etobicoke
Carmela Galardo is no stranger to cultivating land. From the commune of Mignano Monte Lungo in Campania’s province of Caserta, she grew up in a rural farmhouse. Her husband Pasquale is always by her side in their backyard retreat in south Etobicoke, where they raised their two daughters and have been gardening for 60 years. “Half the garden is full of tomato plants!” Carmela says. “The other half is everything else.”