Emilio Nanci immigrated to Canada in 1953. In 1958, he sent for Lina and they made their home in North Vancouver for twenty years. After a holiday to Kelowna in 1970, they decided to move there permanently, in 1974. They built several houses before settling at their current location on Casorso Road. I recently visited Emilio and Lina in their garden.
A food garden has always been a part of Emilio and Lina’s lives. Their present garden is a combination of grapes, vegetables, herbs and meticulously groomed fruit trees. Garlic, lettuce, beans, chards, corn and tomatoes are in abundance. Seeds are saved from the best plants and are exchanged with family and friends. This exchange, sometimes, results in mystery plants. This year some unexpected buttercup and butternut squash are growing quite well. They have some beautiful specimens of bay leaf, basilico, rosemary, cicoria and parsley. They also have colourful flowers such as Oleander to grace their garden. A splendid grape arbour is adjacent to their greenhouse and surrounds their eating area.
According to Emilio, his garden is the “Italian style”… a place where growing and eating are merged. He also credits the call of the garden for his quick recovery from hip surgery. The tomatoes are his pride and joy. Each year, he grows a few tomatoes that reach 1 kg! The rest are preserved for tomato sauce and a lot of their vegetables are frozen for use over the winter. That’s truly organic.
The garden, sometimes, throws new challenges for Emilio and Lina. This year, the visiting deer thoroughly enjoyed their fresh lettuces and grapes vines. Numerous quail have also feasted here. Nets and wire meshing have been installed to protect some of the produce. They have set up some elaborate wiring over the gate to keep them out, but the deer are determined to eat the beet greens.
Sitting in the shade, surrounded by grapes, it was a pleasure to chat with Emilio and Lina about life in Italy, raising rabbits, chickens, pigs and goats. Their daily procedure of joining the community sheep parade to the hills, each morning, was reminiscent of the stories my grandmother told of her home town. This is where I found out Emilio and Lina were Abruzzi residents, like my grandmother, Francesca. I was overly elated to realize their current house and garden sits on land that my Nonna Francesca, farmed… what a small world we live in.
Life-long Gardener Don Rampone shares his tips and advice for gardening