Historical information

Circa late 1800s early 1900s a horse-drawn plough, potato digger, is one example of the implements that were widely used by early market gardeners in the Shire of Moorabbin. The flat plate, seen to the right of the photo, dug down into the ground below the potatoes and "scooped" them up. Behind the plate, two driving chains on cogs, (these chains are missing from our exhibit), then "rocked' the dug potatoes to loosen the soil from the "spuds". The potatoes were then harvested by hand. Very large tracts of land in the Shire of Moorabbin were planted with potatoes. Harvesting commenced in October, into November and on into December. Potatoes were a necessary food staple. The market gardeners were always in a rush to be first to get their potatoes to market, and hence the best price. Some market gardeners were so keen to be the first to market, (and get the most money), that they dug their potatoes "green" (or new). The only downside of this practice was that these early potatoes had to be handled with extreme care as their skins were very loose, and came off easily - so decreasing their profits.As well as taking their produce to the Melbourne and St Kilda markets, they also sent produce off to Sydney markets. It is interesting to note that a group of Chinese market gardeners were the first to access the Sydney market. .


Following the 'Dendy's Special Survey' 1841 and the Crown Land Sale of 1852, land allotments were sold to pioneer settlers who established market gardens in the area of Moorabbin Shire. During the 1850s gold-rush population boom the number of market gardeners increased significantly spreading throughout the Moorabbin Shire. Potatoes were considered a staple foodstuff, so crops were regularly sown throughout the whole Moorabbin area.

Physical description

Circa late 1800s early 1900s. A horse-drawn plough potato digger is an example of the machines used by early market gardeners in Moorabbin Shire