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The Grove by the Lake

Last year I Adopted an Olive Tree for my Mum for her birthday.  Catch up here.  Fast forward to last weekend and it was time to visit the olive tree and pick its bountiful harvest.  No doubt like all the other adoptive parents, we had been watching the ominous skies and bucket loads of water that had been falling from them, with some trepidation.  Would it be sunny on the day we picked? Would there be any olives on the tree? Would the whole grove have disappeared into the rising waters of Lake Wivenhoe?

A trip from Brisbane to OlivFresh will take you out along the Brisbane Valley Highway, through Fernvale, past the dam wall and spillway (yep, pretty full!) and on to just opposite the Coominya turn off.  We arrived at the grove just after 11am to find picking festivities in full swing.  There’s a small processing shed on the peak of the hill and this served as the hub for the day with lawns sweeping down to the dam on one side and the olive trees disappearing into the distance on the other.

A view down to the dam – heavy skies threaten

We parked, grabbed a shady spot under a nearby tree, walked over to the shed to find out our tree number and headed off with our professional picking equipment to the spot.  Throughout the grove little groups were clustered, picking olives from their tree, spreading out picnic blankets and enjoying the first sunny day in forever.

When I say ‘professional olive picking equipment’, this was a few things I’d thrown into the back of the car as a bit of a best guess.  The step ladder was a stroke of genius and helped us take advantage of every olive on the tree.  The trees are perfect for picking from as the variety is compact and not too high, with the help of the ladder.  A couple of plastic bowls to pick the olives into and to allow sorting and a bucket to carry away the haul was all that was needed.  The gardening gloves and secateurs were unnecessary as the olives virtually fell into out hands at the slightest touch.  And that’s been some of the problem for OlivFresh this year.  With so much rain, a lot of the olives were sitting blemished on the ground and some on the trees had a mould on them.  Still, there were plenty of olives and plenty of trees to pick from.  After we had picked our small tree clean, we were able to wander down towards the back of the grove and select from trees that were untagged.  The ground was quite wet underfoot but I wished I’d worn sandals as it was a hot and muggy day and the sturdy boots we had brought were unnecessary.

Our bucket filled quickly and before we knew it, it was time for our picnic lunch and to enjoy the entertainment, a pair of singers wandering the groves doing Popera and all the hits of Andrew Lloyd Webber.  There were also a few small stalls selling snags on rolls and decent coffee as well as OlivFresh’s own organic olives and olive leaf extract.  Information sheets were available on how to process the olives at home but we’re lucky enough to have ‘Sicilian Connections‘ who are going to process our olives along with their own and return them to us when they’re ready.  Lucky, lucky, lucky!

Before we knew it, the wine had been consumed, the coffee and cake finished and it was time to pack up for the short drive the Brisbane.  Where did that day go?

OlivFresh has recently been sold to another family run local company ‘Olive Leaf Australia’, also in the same region.  I’m uncertain whether they’ll continue to run Adopt an Olive but it was such a hit, I’m sure they’ll be considering it.  Keep an eye out on their websites, for further updates.

OlivFresh Organic Olives

Olive Leaf Australia

8 comments… add one
  • Lizzy (Good Things) March 24, 2013, 9:01 am

    What a lovely concept, Fiona. And such a great day out! Love it!

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! March 24, 2013, 10:20 am

      We weren't quite sure what to expect but it was a great family day. Looking forward to trying our plunder!

  • Melissa L March 24, 2013, 10:04 pm

    Adopting an olive tree sounds like an amazing idea and harvesting its bounty sounded like so much fun!

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! March 26, 2013, 7:20 pm

      It a great idea for someone who's hard to but for. Thanks for visiting Melissa.

  • Jan Rhoades March 26, 2013, 11:08 am

    Yes, a great day indeed. But you forgot to mention to drop-off at QE11 Hospital on the way home. I have dubbed it 'the day Warren's knee blew up'. The meatloaf was delicious and easily washed down with a QANTAS cup of two of fund-raiser red.

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! March 26, 2013, 7:21 pm

      I heard back from the new owners and they are delighted with my post. I hope they consider running the event again next year.

  • vegeTARAian March 26, 2013, 8:42 pm

    Gosh I love olives, what a great day you must have had!

    • Fiona Bris-Vegas! March 27, 2013, 5:57 pm

      Yes, I love olives too. OlivFresh do a delicious smoked table olive. I'm hoping for big things from the Sicilans!

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