Olive growers hungry for oil know-how

Olive producers from across Australia are finding a common meeting point through a Farming Together-backed project.

The Queensland Olive Council project was a successful recipient of a Farming Together, Farmer Group Project grant and will use the almost $67,000 grant funds to collaborate with South Australian growers to identify a provenance framework for Australia’s olives which is attracting unprecedented industry interest.

Barely six months since it was started, the project organiser Amanda Bailey, CEO of the Queensland Olive Council, has been contacted by growers from Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. “They are saying: ‘This is really interesting, why haven’t we looked at this before?” she said.

Two tasting-tuition sessions last month, one in Toowoomba and the other in Adelaide, attracted 50 growers. A webinar next April is expected to attract far greater numbers – including interstate growers. Before that, however, Amanda is organising another tasting-tuition session on January 19. Registrations are being accepted at https://www.facebook.com/queenslandolives/

The Toowoomba event on December 3 featured the expertise of international sensory expert and olive oil taster Dr Richard Gawel, who recommended one producer bottle up their product and submit it for international competition.

He said collaborations like the tasting sessions signified maturity within the industry and readiness to undertake agronomic and quality improvement. “Focusing on provenance is a growing trend and it will be even more important for years to come,” he said. “It requires producers to be prepared and arm themselves with this sort of information; that is what is going to grow the industry.”

Victorian olive grower Marjan Symington from Shepparton said she first read about the project in a Spanish olive industry magazine. She contacted Amanda to learn more about the project. Her grower group, the Goulburn Strathbogie Olive Growers Association, has already established an accreditation system, a seal for established quality parameters. She said the new project could be included easily into their accreditation system. “It’s opened up more possibilities for us,” she said.

Farming Together program director Lorraine Gordon said: “This project is clearly addressing a national need for the industry. It represents a strength of the Farming Together program – listening to visionary farmers, sharing their passion and supporting them.”

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