Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

An Olive Tree Change

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

An Olive Tree Change

Article excerpt

WHEN you think of olive groves you are likely to think of fields in Spain or Italy overlooking the blue Mediterranean.

But Peter and Yvonne Sturmanis have been growing them successfully for more than 14 years just south of Miriam Vale where they produce table olives and olive oil which are much sought after in local markets.

In 1997 Peter and Yvonne planted their olive trees on a small acreage they had bought a few years previously.

Peter was a diesel fitter during his working life but had a long hankering to be on the land, and Yvonne, formerly an office worker, also wanted a lifestyle change.

While they were raising their two children at Jimboomba, south of Brisbane, there was not much they could do about their ambitions. That changed when their kids grew up.

C[pounds sterling]We came here during a sort of mid-life-crisis Co the kids wouldn't leave us so we left them the house and came here,C[yen] Yvonne said.

And C[pounds sterling]hereC[yen] was Foxtail Flats, 100 acres of undulating sandy loam over clay country with rocky outcrops, off Tableland Road, Taunton, near Baffle Creek.

The decision to grow olive trees and harvest and value-add the olives was partly a challenge to do something different and partly due to a constraint from available finances.

C[pounds sterling]I was looking for something where I could make a quid but if you want to go into cattle you need thousands of acres and then you've got to stock the land,C[yen] said Peter.

Growing olive trees seemed a more likely prospect.

C[pounds sterling]We have 100 acres here and 1000 trees on 15 of those acres.C[yen]

They produce enough olives and olive products to sell at local markets, but the Sturmanis have no plans to expand the plantation, its output or their market.

C[pounds sterling]We made a promise not to go far and wide because you don't enjoy what you're doing when it becomes a chore.C[yen]

The Sturmanis estimate they can produce five tonnes of olives a year for table and extra virgin olive oil Cobut that is on a good year (which seldom comes) and they sell all of it at community markets. …

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