THE story of Tony and Lina Siciliano and their backyard garden could be the story of anyone who grew up in the Depression.
Over 30 years, the Italian couple have transformed a suburban 1.2ha block on the outskirts of Melbourne into a slice of the Calabrian countryside - and a hugely productive one at that.
- Growing Honest Food, by Gabriella Gomersall-Hubbard. Hyland House, rrp $39.95
Author and keen gardener Gabriella Gomersall-Hubbard explores and records the transformation of the property, Rose Creek Estate, in Growing Honest Food.
The Sicilianos have grown a small vineyard, with 3200 vines, as well as 400 olive trees - from which they have produced award-winning wine and olive oil.
The couple have a bountiful orchard and vegie garden, with associated preserving and sausage-making. Theirs is the embodiment of a traditional way of life that is now highly sought-after, seen in buzz terms such as "slow food", "locavore" and "food miles".
Growing Honest Food is divided into the months of the year and follows seasonal cycles.
In March, for instance, it shows how to grow the best tomatoes, with recipes for stuffed tomatoes, sundried varieties and passata.
There are many recipes, vignettes, tips and tricks packed into this 210-page hardback.
This is no airbrushed, aspirational impression of the Sicilianos' life, but a warts-and-all account, with daggy family snaps included.