Producer Profiles

Farmer Fights Homophobia with Olive Oil Brand

Mark Dyer launched The Gay Farmer brand of organic EVOO in 2008 after a friend jokingly asked him, "What are you calling yourself, the bloody gay farmer?"

Mark Dyer
Mar. 21, 2017
By Julie Al-Zoubi
Mark Dyer

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The Gay Farmer” brand of organic extra vir­gin olive oil raised over £3,000 for the LGBT char­ity Stonewall last month at a fundrais­ing event in Lon­don. The event was the brain­child of an olive farmer, Mark Dyer who pas­sion­ately sup­ports Stonewall’s mis­sion to wipe out homo­pho­bia in schools.

Dyer trans­formed his olive oil stall at London’s Maltby Street Mar­ket into a hub of infor­ma­tion high­light­ing the work of Stonewall. The charity’s objec­tive is Accep­tance with­out Excep­tion.” At the event, infor­ma­tion and advice were dished out along with Dyer’s quirky brand of organic EVOO.

Dyer launched The Gay Farmer” brand of organic EVOO in 2008, after a friend jok­ingly asked him, What are you call­ing your­self, the bloody gay farmer?” Dyer real­ized the name was risky, but embraced the oppor­tu­nity to use the word gay” pos­i­tively, and went with the brand.

The Gay Farmer olive oil is pro­duced from Picual and Arbe­quina olive trees on Dyer’s farm in Moratalla Mur­cia, Spain. Dyer has 50 olive trees which pro­duce between 100 and 200 liters of oil annu­ally. The brand is sup­ple­mented by oil sourced from cer­ti­fied organic olive groves in Ace Agra, near Cares­parra.

Dyer divides his time between the UK and Spain. He sup­plies gourmet food shops in Lon­don and Brighton and sells his olive oil at Maltby Street Mar­ket. Dyer is hands-on at his farm dur­ing the olive har­vest, which he describes as bloody hard work.” He returns to Spain fre­quently to pack­age oil.

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When asked if he saw him­self as the Tim Cook of the olive oil indus­try, Dyer laugh­ingly replied, That would be an acco­lade; I think I have some way to go. How­ever break­ing bound­aries and using the word gay” in a pos­i­tive way is a start.”

Dyer decided to pack­age his EVOO in eye-catch­ing sil­ver cans with strong brand­ing, to make the prod­uct stand out. Dyer told Olive Oil Times I have never been much of a fol­lower, far more a leader.”

Pack­ag­ing the olive oil in cans pro­tects it from light and is more envi­ron­men­tally friendly than glass bot­tles, he pointed out. The recy­clable cans were also lighter than bot­tles, which reduced the costs of trans­port­ing the EVOO from Spain to the UK.

Dyer’s pas­sion for Stonewal­l’s work in schools arose from his own child­hood suf­fer­ing at the hands of homo­pho­bic bul­lies. He went on to make a name for him­self on the Lon­don food scene and became com­mit­ted to using the Gay Farmer Brand as a way of rais­ing funds and aware­ness for Stonewall.

We hope to make this a yearly event (to ben­e­fit) Stonewall. I really want to con­tinue to do as much as I can.”

Dyer recently expanded his range by adding fresh pesto, made from his organic EVOO and other high-qual­ity ingre­di­ents. In the future, he hopes to own a small farm in the UK.



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