Featured in Days Gone By this week is one of Harvey’s pioneering families — the Lowes. Their involvement in the fruit growing industry over the last century has been instrumental in helping to put Harvey’s produce on the map. It is no secret that Harvey is famous for its citrus, but long before it was home to orange orchards, it was well known for another type of orange stone fruit. Apricots. When John Lowe’s grandfather Isaac left England, he headed to Australia for a new life. Although most of the English passengers joined the gold rush, Isaac threw his hat in the ring of agriculture and decided to plant 2000 apricot trees in a town called Harvey. “He bought the farm on Fourth Street off a German fella who was believed to be part of a German royal family,” John said. While John’s grandfather helped to pioneer the agriculture industry in the town, it was his father Jack who helped drive local business. “Dad had a lot of stores in the main street,” John said. “He owned a supermarket in the heart of town and was a real businessman.” The 85-year-old recalled spending a lot of time in his father’s shop and said a lot had changed over the decades. “I still remember when people would hitch their horse and carts up behind where the Shire of Harvey office sits today,” he said. “There were also two milk factories in Harvey back in the day.” When John graduated from the Muresk Institute in the Wheatbelt, he returned to work on his family’s farm with a brain full of agronomic knowledge. “The soil in Harvey was perfect for growing apricots,” John said. “Our apricots were for jam making and we would send off 100 tonnes of apricots to factories each year.” As jam factories started to diminish, John and his family decided to move into citrus. John became the chairman of Citrus WA and was the chairman of all fruit growers in WA. He met his wife Margaret at a dance put on by one of the local firies at the RSL Hall in 1956. “I think he asked me for a dance and I said OK,” Margaret said. Margaret was working in Harvey as a teacher. She soon moved in with John and they had three children together. As the market demands changed, the Lowe family moved into growing nashi pears before planting vineyards and growing grapes. “We used to pick the fruit by hand and when we got a machine, people used to have picnics and watch it because it was such a novelty,” Margaret said. “We have reds and whites and we still have vineyards to date.” Margaret said some of her fondest memories were watching the children play in the Harvey irrigation channels. “They used to get carried through the town in the channels and you’d see them lying on their towels on the road soaking up the sun,” she said. “They had to watch out for the leeches though.” The adorable pair still live on their farm today.