The grove was established in 2000 and acquired by Stephen Parker and his wife in 2004. The farms' proximity to the Great Ocean Road, Surf beaches and magnificent Otway Ranges and Coastal hinterland was a major consideration for us given our young children at the time. The idea of a small farming enterprise in parallel with our careers was highly attractive and the opportunity to create something from nature that we can consume and is healthy for us was enticing and exciting. We feel there needs to be greater awareness and commitment by all of us to our own health and food production. This enterprise has given us an opportunity to engage in both aspects as well to share our produce, experiences and beliefs.
From the start, we have had a focus on sustainability and a minimal impact on nature. We learnt very quickly that sustainability has many dimensions and that to be able to continue this operation and enjoy the lifestyle, we had to become very efficient and prudent with maximum re-use and minimising waste. Being time and cost constrained brings with it a critical focus on priorities and being effective when there are long term goals to fulfil. Olive growing is a long-term pursuit without short cuts.
Whilst we are a small business, we learnt early that our grove is too big to be run as a boutique provider or hobby farm. Our focus from very early on has been on maximising productivity given our limitations so we can deliver great value quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil to our customers. We've managed to do this with minimal chemicals and with limited water. We are not organic - but we are low impact.
We also learned that Olive growing is like any other primary production enterprise. Engaging with the local rural community was like being woken up from a dream. (I won't go into the detail!). With lots of local advice, we realised that the primary determinants of our products were nature and that we needed to work with what we had because whatever we would add would only ever have short-term benefit and quite likely long-term detrimental impacts. So healthy trees and healthy soil are the things we focus on. We have limited water and therefore we live with the seasonal variations in yield, choosing not to push the trees artificially.
Given all the challenges with the primary production issues, they really are just things to be understood and “lived” with. We have learned to expect the unexpected and to not have unrealistic expectations.
For our industry, however, the challenges are in the sales and marketing of our wonderful product. Our extra virgin olive oils are amongst the best in the world, but we need to educate the Australian consumer to this fact and the fact that they are being duped as to what to expect of real Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Australian consumers need to pressure the government to implement tougher labelling regulations across all food groups. For the olive oil industry, this would mean that much of the deceitful labelling of imported bulk oil would be stopped. It wouldn’t be called Extra Virgin Olive oil because much of it is not Extra Virgin Olive oil! A very high proportion of it is adulterated deodorised rancid oils that are deceitfully labelled.
So enough of me being on my high horse...I could type for days. Please explore the rest of the story and if you have questions just call or drop us a message.