Gibsons take top gong at Sydney Royal awards

Gibsons take top gong at Sydney Royal awards

Smart Farmer News
WINNERS: Clare and Greg Gibson proudly display the trophy and sash presented to them for winning Champion Table Olive at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. Photo: Denis Howard.

WINNERS: Clare and Greg Gibson proudly display the trophy and sash presented to them for winning Champion Table Olive at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show. Photo: Denis Howard.

Aa

Some people chase awards for recognition, for prizes or even just to boost their egos. That has never crossed the mind of Greg and Clare Gibson who have taken out Champion Table Olive at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show.

Aa

Some people chase awards for recognition, for prizes or even just to boost their egos.

That has never crossed the mind of Greg and Clare Gibson who have taken out Champion Table Olive at the Sydney Royal Fine Food Show.

The Gibsons enter their olives in the prestigious competition to 'make sure we are maintaining our standards' as Greg put it.

Grown on 2000 trees on their property around 15 kilometres south of Forbes in NSW Central West, Greg and Clare have won awards at the show previously with their Manzanillo, Paragon and Carraggiolla olives but claimed top prize this year with their Ligurian style olives.

TOP NOTCH: Greg Gibson with a sample of the olives voted the best at the Sydney Fine Food Show.

TOP NOTCH: Greg Gibson with a sample of the olives voted the best at the Sydney Fine Food Show.

They also claimed a silver medal for their Paragon Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

On there he Gibsons run 200 head of Hereford-Angus cattle and produce hay to sell, but it is there olives which are turning heads.

"We have been entering the Sydney Royal Fine Food competition since it began around 14 years ago, winning awards every year except one," Greg said.

"It is a great way to measure our standards against other quality olive producers.

"There is also a measure of prestige surrounding the competition and winning awards definitely helps us get in the door with new clients."

Greg and his son Richard complete deliveries every eight weeks to around 45 clients all the way through to Blaxland in the Blue Mountains, leaving at 6.30am and not returning home until around 10pm that night.

"It's a long day," Greg said.

"I used to do the run by myself but now Richard does all the heavy lifting for me.

"Our system seems to work well with clients emailing through orders before the eight weeks is up. They start chasing me if something comes up and I run a week late."

As with all enterprises, Gibson Grove began from small beginnings and out of necessity.

"When we first took the property in 1996, it was dry and we needed to diversify our income streams," he said.

"There was an immense amount of olive oil being imported into Australia so we saw an opportunity there.

"We started with five rows, each with 50 trees, hand watering them.

"They went well and we planted more in 1998, 1999 and 2000 until we got to the number of trees we have today.

"We decided 2000 was enough though.

"On an average year we are getting around 40 kilograms per tree, giving us 80 tonne.

"We got our first real harvest in 2002, 200 kilos, which we took to a press in Young, and sold the oil.

"For two years we took our fruit there until they sold the press, then we took the olives to Wagga for several years.

"We were hand-picking ourselves, then load up a trailer and ute, and I would leave at around 6pm and drive down to deliver to the press, returning late before getting up again at 7am to do it all again.

"Now we use backpackers to harvest the fruit and a press at Billamarri."

Gibson Grove has award winning process

WINNERS: Greg Gibson and his award-winning range of olives and oils. Photo: Denis Howard.

WINNERS: Greg Gibson and his award-winning range of olives and oils. Photo: Denis Howard.

You don't win any prestigious awards without having a good system in place.

That is just the case for Greg and Clare Gibson of Grove Grove Olives.

The Gibsons have fine-tuned their processes over the years and have reaped the rewards, winning many accolades including Champion Table Olive at this year's Sydney Royal Fine Foods Show.

"Each year begins with pruning in late January, early February after the trees have flowered," Greg said.

"We also prune throughout the year.

"Around Easter time, we get backpackers in who are paid per container - usually filling anywhere between four and 12 a day.

"They use rakes to harvest the olives with a special catcher that looks a bit like a trampoline under the tree.

"From the mobile catcher the olives flow into lugs before being put through a self-designed leaf extractor.

"They are then put into a 200 kilogram pickling barrel with a salt brine already in it.

"From being picked the olives are in the brine within two hours.

"The brine helps remove any small bruising in the flesh of the olive.

"From there the olives are closely monitored, tested every week for pH and salinity.

"They need to have a pH reading of four or lower but not less than three.

"Salinity must be 10 percent and we add salt to keep it at that.

"As we get orders, we take them out of the brine and sort them by hand and remove any stalks and any with inferior shapes.

"We use the brine as a supplement for the cattle and they respond well to it.

"We then package them in 350g and 2kg jars, as well as 10kg pales, with six percent brine and add rosemary, caraway seeds and garlic and they are ready to go."

The olive trees require water all year round, especially in winter when they are dormant and growing shoots up through the bark.

"Our trees have been on drippers for three years now as we haven't received the rainfall we need," Greg said.

"We stop watering them three to four weeks before harvest to keep the bark holding tighter on the oil trees so the shaker doesn't remove it."

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by