We originaly brought the land at Smeaton back in 1997, we eventually cleared the land of all the thistles and rocks which inhabited the area. We were wondering what we should do with the property. After 2 years of much consideration it hit us, "Olives"
We planted the 1700 trees in late December of 1999 and they have been growing ever since. With much tender loving care the trees began to fruit in winter of 2009. In that first year we picked all the fruit off by hand, the cold wind and rain soon made us realise that there had to be another alternative.
In 2010 we decided to hire a harvester to shake the tree and remove the fruit for us, which was so much better. We went with this option for the next couple of years. We transported the olives to somebody else to press, however in 2012 the tress were producing too many olives to make this viable, so we purchased our own olive press. After many headaches and trying to learn Italian, we finally had the press up and running and that is what makes The Phoenix Olive Grove what it is today.
In 2013 we decided to buy our own harvester. Since 2013 The Phoenix Olive Grove oil is 100% made from our trees on our land. We harvest, press, bottle and label all our products on our own property. The only time it leaves the property is when it is purchased.
Tastings and locations.
The Phoenix Olive Grove offer tastings directly from the farm as well as the opportunity to buy the product directly.
We also offer tastings at a range of markets around the local area, try before you buy. Our regular markets are Ballarat Market Show Grounds (every Sunday), Creswick Market (once a month) and the Lakeside Market Lake Wendouree (once a month).
Our whole range of products are also available from other shops and stores located in the local area, Bean and Borrow (Creswick) and Creswick Country Fresh (Creswick).
The Phoenix Olive Grove use a dark green square bottles for all our oil. This makes it harder for light to penetrate the bottle and make the oil warm and go bad. It should be kept in a cool dark place to keep your oils as good as they can be. The square bottle also makes it easy for storage and transport from us to you.
Although we have two size bottles, our caps are the same size, this reduces the cost to us therefore keeps the oil cheaper for our customers. The caps are designed with an oil pourer already inserted in the lid, so when the cap is screwed on after the bottling process it is ready for use.
We also use a three sided label now, this not only makes it quicker and easier for us but makes it easier for the customer to read all of the information on the bottle and not to make it look too crowded.
The harvesting process.
Our Harvest is fully family operated and takes approximately a week. The harvester is located on the back of our tractor and driven from the power take off from the tractor. Once in the position the boom arm is extended to the correct position on the trunk of the tree. There are three arms that squeeze the trunk and once the clamp is fully engaged the umbrella is open to catch the fruit.
A button is then pressed to vibrate the tree which makes most of the fruit drop off into the umbrella then into the hopper on the harvester. Once that hopper is full then we empty it into pallet boxes and take them to the shed to be sorted and then pressed.
Sorting of the leaf and fruit.
The fruit and the leaf is slowly sieved onto a conveyer belt, this moves up the conveyer and drops onto another small conveyer, but before it reaches the second conveyer a large suction fan will suck up the leaf but not the fruit, this allows the fruit to continue to the next conveyer which then drops into another pallet box. Once the box is full it is then taken over to the olive press. Each pallet box holds about 500kg of fruit.
The fruit is bucketed into the hopper of the press then drops into a pool of water to wash the fruit and the excess leaf is removed by another suction fan. Once the fruit is washed it then goes into another hopper. The fruit is then pushed into the hammer mill which crushes the olives into a paste. That paste then sits in the mixer for about a hour which helps the oil seperate from the paste.
Once the fruit sits in the mixer for a hour it is then pumped into the centrifuge. The centrifuge spins and separates the oil from the paste. The oil comes from end of the centrifuge and excess comes out the other side. The oil is then pumped into holding tanks to rest.
The oil sits in these holding tanks for around 3-4 months to settle before being strained and bottled.