Backyard Growers Create Prize-Winning Olive Oil in Australia

Two Australian organizations are working to prevent olives growing in Melbourne from going to waste by milling combined batches and returning the oil to the community.
(Photo: CERES)
By Lisa Anderson
May. 23, 2023 23:07 UTC

Residents of Melbourne, Australia, are hav­ing their back­yard olives pressed together to cre­ate a com­mu­nal extra vir­gin olive oil at an annual fes­ti­val.

The event fea­tures infor­ma­tion stalls and advice on tend­ing to olive trees and has seen almost ten tons of olives pressed since 2018 to cre­ate an extra vir­gin olive oil brand known as 3000acres.

We’re a part of the big­ger CERES fam­ily, and the 3000 refers to the post­code of Melbourne,” explained Merrin Layden, CERES’s com­mu­nity food sys­tems man­ager, a social enter­prise hub orga­niz­ing the event with 3000acres.

See Also:Farmers in Australia Look Forward to An Abundant Harvest

She said the oil had won sil­ver and bronze medals at the Royal Adelaide Show in two con­sec­u­tive years.

Layden said 3000acres encour­ages peo­ple to work together across the city to har­vest olives that may go to waste oth­er­wise.

The intent of the pro­gram is to enable peo­ple to access olive press­ing by join­ing together with their com­mu­nity,” she said, as most proces­sors have min­i­mum batch size require­ments that indi­vid­u­als oth­er­wise would­n’t be able to meet.”

Once CERES col­lects and weighs par­tic­i­pants’ olives on the day of the fes­ti­val, they are sent to nearby Barfold Olives, a pro­ducer north­west of Melbourne, to be processed. The oil will then be deliv­ered to par­tic­i­pants later this year.

Each participant’s vol­ume of oil will depend on the num­ber of olives they har­vested and other fac­tors, such as olive vari­ety.

Layden said there are many olive cul­ti­vars grown in Melbourne. “[There is] such a huge vari­ety,” she told Olive Oil Times, many planted by Greek and Italian migrants with cut­tings brought from their homes when they arrived decades ago.”

We have Kalamata, Manzanilla, Frantoio, Cerignola, Gordal, Arbequina and I’m sure so many more,” she added. But the deliv­er­ies are always a mix of sizes, vari­eties, stages of ripen­ing and more.”

The fes­ti­val is held on two dif­fer­ent dates. The first event took place on May 21 in the sub­urb of Brunswick East, and the sec­ond will be held on June 4 in the local Hobsons Bay area.

Backyard olive grow­ers inter­ested in hav­ing their olives processed at the upcom­ing Hobson Bay event must reg­is­ter before June 4 to arrange a time to drop them off.

Bookings are essen­tial and free for res­i­dents of Hobsons Bay and $15 (AUD) for par­tic­i­pants from other areas of met­ro­pol­i­tan Melbourne.

The aver­age con­tri­bu­tion per book­ing is around 20 to 30 kilo­grams,” Layden said. But we receive as lit­tle as 200 grams handed over by excited chil­dren and as much as 100 kilo­grams har­vested by fam­ily groups or neigh­bors.”

She added they will now be cap­ping peo­ple’s con­tri­bu­tions at 50 kilo­grams per fam­ily, and the olives should not be har­vested before June 2.

You can pick the olives by hand indi­vid­u­ally or in hand­fuls, shake the branches or use a rake to pull the olives down from the tree,” she said.


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