Remembering 'The Cauliflower' and 'Green Pea' kings

Shoalhaven veggies the cream of the crop: History


The Shoalhaven has produced some monster vegetables in its time.


The NSW Shoalhaven has produced some monster vegetables in its time.

In December 1893, James Jamieson proudly drove his horse and cart into town from Nowra Hill with a cauliflower he had grown, topping the scales at 18lb (8kg).

It was put on display in J.E. Bond's Cash Exchange store next to the post office for the Christmas shoppers to admire.

Half a century later, a monster jam melon was displayed in another Nowra shop, said to have weighed 115lb (52kg), and it was spotted by Bill Lymbery from Berry.

He went home and found one 126lb (57kg) and lugged it in to the office of the South Coast Register.

"We just wanted to show that Berry could beat Nowra, so tell them about this one," Mr Lymbery said.

While the great flood of 1870 proved to be disastrous for many Shoalhaven residents, one has to feel for John Smith who lived near the ferry at Coolangatta (not the man of the same name who was Nowra's first resident).

Smith suffered from ill-health, but grew vegetables that he sold to friends and neighbours to make ends meet, including cabbages for which he asked sixpence a dozen - as long as they were collected.

He was devastated when floodwaters destroyed 2000 cabbages, and as the flood receded, looters took corn and oranges from his property.

In August 1926, Rahmat Khan grew 2000 cauliflowers in the market garden he had operated since 1915 near the corner of Ferry Lane and Terara Road.

Referred to in the Nowra Leader as "The Cauliflower King", he had paid a man to tend the crop and looked to do well by selling them at the Sydney markets.

His first consignment of 83 dozen was sold for just £1 10s, but when he received his statement, the commission, along with freight and charges amounted to £1/14/7.

With a debit result from that consignment, he was forced to try and sell them locally.

Just down the road from Khan's garden in 1926 was John Campbell of Terara who may have contributed to a glut of cauliflowers, but the South Coast Register dubbed him "The Green Pea King".

With plenty of peas on his 32-acre property, picking time saw some hectic activity.

Campbell employed Aboriginal people from nearby Roseby Park, but the paper suggested tongue-in-cheek that a Soviet emissary had infiltrated the tribe when there was a pea-pickers' strike.

However the peas were eventually picked, and there was mention of 18 pence per bushel (18lb).

Another vegetable industry to begin in the district was the growing of carrots by Ralph Humble in 1938, soon after he had relinquished dairying with his Jersey herd on the Woodside property at Berry.

With 1.25 acres planted, during June he took samples in to the Register office, where editor Les Higgins was impressed with what he was given.

Bright prospects were predicted for Humble, but he may not have made his fortune for in the following September he advertised the carrots for sale at three shillings per cwt (50kg).


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