Organic Olive Growing

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In biblical times, when the great flood that had inundated the earth began to recede, a dove returned to Noah’s ark with a sprig of olive leaves in its beak. Tears of joy might have been shed by the people huddled on this legendary craft as they caught their first glimpse of a land where new life could begin. And when Ken and Regina Roland found their own corner of paradise in 1993, they too were filled with emotion as they strode confidently into a new phase of their lives.

They initially ran a few cattle on their property near the town of Montgomery, and by the time they’d converting a derelict cottage into a comfortable family home, they’d put down firm roots, and a new vision of the future, a future in which olive trees would play an important role, began to blossom.

Olive trees (Olea europaea) were first cultivated in Syria more than 5,000 years ago, but there was little interest when they were first introduced to Australia in 1805. European immigrants who flocked to Australia following World War II were eager to cultivate them however, and established olive groves to feed their passion for the flavours of their homelands. High labour costs eventually brought the industry to its knees, but in recent decades an increasing demand for olives and for olive oil has breathed new life into this sector of agriculture.

Olive growing was in its infancy in the Montgomery region in 1998, but it was then, undaunted by their relative lack of knowledge, that Ken and Regina took their first step towards the establishment of Naturally Yours Olives. They invited a group of friends to lunch, and all they wanted in return for a sumptuous meal was some help to plant 200 trees. More were planted over the following months, and today som...

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...f the olive industry.

It’s a global industry that’s dominated by Spain, Italy, Portugal, Tunisia, Turkey, and Syria, with Australian growers playing a relatively insignificant role. More than 31,000 tonnes of extra virgin olive oil and 16,000 tonnes of table olives are imported annually, and with consumers becoming increasingly aware of the health benefits of olive oil and other olive products, demand is increasing.

Ken and Regina are not afraid of the hard work involved in the production of olives, but occasionally they ask themselves why they do it, and the answer is simple. Their aim was not to get rich, but simply to do something that they enjoyed. And when they’re sitting on the verandah after a hard day’s work, or wandering quietly through the olive groves, in the shade of trees that have long been a symbol of peace, they know they’ve succeeded admirably.

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