Freshfield Grove

Tales of Tasmanian Adventures in Olive Oil


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How to Cure Olives at Home – Part 1 – With Water

This is a multipart series of posts to give you the confidence and know-how to cure yummy olives yourself at home. You’ll obviously need fresh olives in order to even get started, and for some people this will be the trickiest part! I know some greengrocers in Australia stock them, for example the Harris Farm stores in NSW, so keep your eyes open. However, if you have the good fortune to be in Tasmania during olive season, then get in touch with me and arrange to come and pick some of ours!

Manzanillo olives

Olives are too bitter to eat straight off the tree, and must be cured in some way to make them palatable. Several methods are described, Continue reading


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Newsletter – February 2017

Click here to read the February 2017 Newsletter, with news of my adventures in and out of the grove…


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Visiting the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

I finally got around to visiting the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens this week. I’ve driven past sooo many times and always wondered what it was like. Well, it’s beautiful, and inspiring. I spent about an hour and a half wandering around, and there’s still plenty I didn’t get to. It’s gorgeously laid out, and well maintained, without being too manicured. There are labels on pretty much everything, which is very handy for someone like me who’s planning all sorts of plantings at home. And doesn’t really know what will grow here!

The Arthur Wall and herb garden

The Arthur Wall and herb garden

I loved the area with all the oak trees; it reminded me of the UK. It’s autumn here, well winter this week in fact, so the leaves are falling. Even at this time of year there was still loads to see, I look forward to visiting in Spring, when no doubt there’ll be tons more colour. And I’d love to visit on a sunny day, I reckon blue skies and sunshine would highlight it all fabulously! Ooh, and there’s a lovely café / restaurant where I ate some delicious ricotta cake. It was chocolately too 🙂

Favourite bits (in no particular order, and photos at the end!):

  1. Sub-antarctic garden – bring your woolies for this! Includes sound effects. Will post a video separately, hopefully…
  2. Community garden, with loads of fruit and veggies. Includes several olive trees, with one huge old one.  This seemed to be hosting a party of birds high in the branches who were busy trying to drop olives on my head! This area also had a kiwi fruit vine which I’ve never seen before. And several tamarillo trees. I’ve got no idea what they taste like, but they look really cool!
  3. Conservatory – Fabulous stone building crammed with plants, including some fantastic orchids.
  4. Brick walls – I’ve always had a thing for walled gardens – and The Secret Garden was one of my favorite children’s books. This wasn’t a walled garden as such, but I loved the more formal garden on one side, with the huge trees towering beyond it. A little more research tells me that this is the Arthur Wall. Convict built, and originally heated! Until they discovered the climate was mild enough without.
  5. A really big tree! At the entrance. One of several absolute monsters.
  6. A Huon pine. At 35, a few years younger than me, and only about 1m tall. These amazing trees are terribly slow growing, and highly valued for their beautiful timber. It has a very high natural oil content which makes it very resistant to water, and they only grow in very restricted environments, so they’re now quite rare. Tahune Airwalk has an area where you can see more of them (I’d totally recommend this place too – it’s fab). FFx


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A little pruning…

farmerfi prunings olive grove

We’ve made a start on pruning our olive trees for the first time. 150 down, 850 to go… Two and a half days pruning, followed by two days with a chipping machine! I ache all over… I did about 50 million squats picking up the branches to put in the chipper. The weather had been kind, but at the moment it’s windy and raining, so my plan to take soil samples is postponed. The weather changes very quickly here though, so I’m hoping in an hour it will be sunny and calm!! FFx


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FREE – Pick your own olives

Would you like to cure your own olives? Come to the beautiful Tasmanian Coal River Valley and pick your own olives to take home. We’re open for picking from today until Saturday 5th July, 2014.

Our Manzanillos are planted every eighth tree throughout the grove as pollinators for the Picual. Manzanillos can be pressed for oil, but they’re traditionally a table olive and their higher moisture content makes oil extraction more difficult, so we’re not picking them ourselves this year.

Contact us using the contact form for more details and directions, and to make sure we’re here before you visit. FFx

Manzanillo olives

Manzanillo olives

Measuring olives

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Distribution graph picual olive size

I like things that can be measured. So a few weeks ago when we had to prune a couple of olive trees in the grove with damaged branches we took the olives off and I measured the length of a representative sample of fruit. Just because. The sample size was 50. (They were small and it was a bit fiddly, and I was getting bored by that point.) I was delighted to see that they formed this lovely curve when plotted on a graph, and thought I’d share it! This is the first graph I’ve drawn in years! FFx


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How many olives does it take…

Infographic - How much extra virgin olive oil do you get from a Tasmanian picual olive tree?

I wouldn’t say that the initial excitement of our farm purchase has worn off, but the realisation that our harvest time is approaching is starting to hit us with some force. Many groves on mainland Australia are harvesting already, but the cooler climate in Tasmania means harvest starts later so the olives have longer to ripen. Friends and family are asking what our plans are, and explaining what we’ll be doing makes it all seem rather real! Continue reading