ROGER Harrison was once a pilot but has now created a new career with his wife on an olive farm.
Rash Valley Olives at Palmtree, near Hampton, is home to 550 trees on 2.4ha of the 16.2ha property.
“Our olives are a special oil variety. They are not really suitable for pickling or for table olives, they are a bit too small,” Mr Harrison said.
“One hundred percent of our olives go into oil production. This year we produced a bit over 1000 litres. It wasn’t a real spectacular harvest in terms of volume but the quality was everything we could have hoped for.”
Mr Harrison said they had enough storage to produce 3000 litres of olive oil and hopefully in future years they would have a bigger harvest.
“We bought the land in 1981 but we only planted the olives in 2002,” he said.
“We were running cattle on agistment. They weren’t our cattle. Then when the owners took the cattle off when they went out of the cattle business, that left us with 16.2ha (40 acres) and we though ‘what are we going to do with it?’.”
Mr Harrison said it was around that time he and his wife became aware of the olive industry, which they investigated.
“We had soil tests done and figured our land had a nice northerly slope to it and the soil was good, so on that basis we went ahead and planted our trees,” he said.
“Initially we planted 550 trees and we had intended to build up the numbers to about 1000 but that never happened.”
Mr Harrison said he was thankful they kept tree numbers at 550 due to the amount of work involved.
“And there is no money in it for us to employ labour so it is really just the two of us,” he said.
“We have our own press so we are fully self-contained, so everything happens on the farm.
“We have total control over all aspects of it, which is nice because it means we are not relying on anyone else.”
Mr Harrison said while there was not a huge amount of money in it, it was able to keep him fit after retiring as a Queensland Government pilot, based in Brisbane.
“That sort of paid the bills while we got all the equipment for the olives but I have given that up four years ago and I don’t miss the Brisbane traffic and I don’t miss the flying. I just enjoy living out here in this area.”
Mr Harrison was one of the producers who gave guests to the Hampton Winter Harvest Long Lunch a talk on his farm.
He said while it was nice for the consumer to meet the grower, it was also nice fro the grower to meet the consumer and be able to answer their questions.
For more go to rashvalleyolives.com.au.
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