The Medulla Valley grove was planted in 2001 with the traditional Italian varieties of Lecchino and Frantoio with some Pendolino as pollinators. A half dozen Kalamatas were added for home pickling making 160 trees in all.
Around Easter the olives are hand picked at just the right stage of ripeness and kept in a coolroom before taken to the local press within 2-3 days of picking to achieve the fresh flavour.
The oil is classified as ‘robust’ meaning it is strong with a long peppery aftertaste. It is cold pressed and meets the Australian standards for Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). On the three occasions it has been submitted to the Royal Show it has won Silver.
The soil is poor gravelly sand with cap rock 1- 2 metres down virtually surrounded by Jarrah forest. The grove was only irrigated 2-3 times each summer for the first eight years. These tough trees have survived without any summer water since then. The only fertiliser since the initial deep rip and NPK has been three applications of blood and bone and four dressings of C-Wise compost. They are pruned hard most years.
The trees, which are not sprayed, host lots of beneficial insects, and birds. We’ve had a thornbill family nest built in them and frogs abound if we have to pick in the rain! Not so beneficial are the parrots that often take more than their fair share.
Picking takes place over three days and spans 3-4 weeks. If there are WWOOFs (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) available we host 6-8 on the home farm but otherwise it involves family and as many volunteers as possible. It is easy work and we have fun.
The oil is bottled, after settling, usually as one mixed type. Occasionally if one variety is picked and pressed separately and has a sufficiently different taste, it will be bottled as that variety. The EVOO is sold mainly through the Freo Farmers Market or door sales. It is also stocked at the SJ CRC in Mundijong.