澳华春秋200年系列 - 华人菜农

中英文对照 Bilingual

图片来自澳洲国立图书馆 Image courtesy National Library of Australia

图片来自澳洲国立图书馆 Image courtesy National Library of Australia

 

淘金热结束之后,被描述为“几乎是农民或工人出身” 的来自珠江三角洲的华人移民,自然而然回归到老本行。
除了捕鱼、种植香蕉、烟草种植、在19世纪末到20世纪30年代,农场种菜被华籍菜农垄断了。


很多的菜园都是租给5到10个人一组的农民,这种租约安排非常适合那些经常要回中国而且一去就是一两年的菜农。他们离家在外的时候,菜园收益会转给临时菜农囊中,但原主人回来,一切回归正常。种植的蔬菜收成之后会拿到街上贩卖,抑或拿到中国摊贩集中的悉尼贝尔摩市场那里售卖。英语有限的菜农会把自己整车的蔬菜卖给华人经销商,让他们把蔬菜拿去市场卖,所以悉尼秣市商铺上面的客栈会在开墟日客满,因为菜农会过个夜再打道回府。


在悉尼,菜园主要遍布于罗斯湾(Rose Bay)至兰德威克( Randwick),横跨博特尼湾(Botany)到拉佩罗斯(La Perouse),也有一小部分高要人在亚力山德亚(Alexandria)经营菜园。在威洛比(Willoughby)和费尔菲尔德(Fairfield)也有一些菜园,而在切斯特斯山、卡姆登、帕拉马塔郊区和温莎等地,平均都有一到两个菜园。在新南威尔士州的乡村地区,几乎每个镇都会有一个华人菜园,而且很多偏远营场的华人厨师都会自己种植蔬菜。

 
 
一名华人菜农正在浇菜。 图片来自新州州立图书馆 Image courtesy State Library of NSW

一名华人菜农正在浇菜。
图片来自新州州立图书馆 Image courtesy State Library of NSW

 


到了20世纪50年代,在移民限制法案下进来的澳洲菜农帮工或者临时工,跟不上老菜农退休的进度。因此,蔬菜种植反而被意大利人和其他战前移民给垄断了。

华人也从事捕鱼,烟草和香蕉种植等领域。19世纪中期,在麦考瑞湖,布肯湾,史蒂芬港,杰维斯湾以及双水湾附近,兴起华人捕鱼腌鱼的产业。但是到了1880年,中国人垄断捕鱼业的日子已结束。新南威尔士州北部的奥伯里,楠德尔,尤其是马尼拉地区的烟草种植是由华人开创的,到了1891年,共有464名烟草种植工人在新南威尔士州和维多利亚州,但仅在短短的十年后工人数目骤降到只剩89人。香蕉贸易对于很多在悉尼的华人店铺来说,也是有利可图的,而且很多店主在斐济有香蕉种植园。但进口香蕉关税的上涨导致不少店主把香蕉种植园移到新南威尔士州北部地区,到了1919年,马伦宾比有将近500公顷的土地为华人拥有或租赁。但已有规模的欧洲园主发起了抵制运动,退役军人也试图加入种植行业,加上土地法令限制华人拥有土地所有权等因素,这些都在一定程度上限制了香蕉种植园的扩张。


对于很多华人来说,菜园种菜并不是他们在农业领域的唯一追求,挣到的钱通常是寄回中国老家乡下用来买稻田,买到的田地通常承包给别人种稻米,等到稻米成熟后再拿去价格波动的市场贩卖。他们留块小地作为退休后种菜自用也是非常普遍的。


People from the Pearl River Delta districts were described as ‘nearly all farmers and labourers’ and after the gold rushes a move into agricultural occupations was natural. Fishing, banana plantations and tobacco growing were other areas but as market gardeners, from the late 19th century to the 1930s, Chinese people dominated.


Most gardens were leased by groups of 5 to 10 and such arrangements suited people who would often go to China for a year or two. When travelling, shares were often passed to another gardener and resumed on return. The vegetables would be hawked around the streets or sold at Sydney’s Belmore Markets where Chinese stallholders were common. Chinese people often worked as vegetable dealers and a gardener with limited English would sell his entire load to a dealer who then sold it at the markets. Dormitories above stores in the Haymarket would be full on market day before the gardeners returned to their huts on their gardens.


In Sydney the main gardens stretched from Rose Bay to Randwick and through Botany to La Perouse, with a small number of gardens of Gao Yao district people at Alexandria. There were also gardens in the Willoughby area and Fairfield, and Chester Hill, Camden, Parramatta and Windsor had at least one or two gardens each. In rural NSW, nearly every town had a Chinese market garden and on many stations a Chinese cook would also grow vegetables.


By the 1950s, exemptions for assistants to, or substitutes for, market gardeners under the Immigration Restriction Act did not keep pace with their retirement. Instead Italians and other post-war arrivals took over vegetable production.


Fishing, tobacco and banana-growing were also undertaken by Chinese people. A significant fishing and fish curing industry arose in the mid-19th century at Lake Macquarie, Broken Bay, Port Stephens, Jervis Bay and Twofold Bay. Though by1880, the days of Chinese taking ‘all the fish brought’ were long over. Tobacco growing in areas such as Albury, Nundle and in particular Manilla in northern NSW, appears to have been pioneered by Chinese farmers and by 1891 there were 464 growers in NSW and Victoria, a number that fell to 89 only 10 years later. The banana trade was also a profitable business for many Chinese stores in Sydney and many owned plantations in Fiji. Rising tariffs on imported bananas led a number of these stores to develop plantations in northern NSW and by 1919 nearly 500 acres around Mullumbimby were owned or leased by Chinese growers. Resistance from established European growers, returned soldiers attempting to enter the industry, and the Crown Land Act’s prohibition of Chinese owning land may have limited expansion.


For many Chinese men market gardens were not their only agricultural pursuit and Australian-earned money was very often used to buy rice-growing land in the home villages. Land purchased was usually rented out to grow rice to be sold on the speculative rice market, although vegetable plots maintained in retirement were also common.

Mingming Feng