Sunday, 23 September 2012
Olive Awards Dinner
Last night husband, daughter, daughter's husband and I attended the olives awards dinner at the Royal Perth Yacht Club. We didn't have any entries in the competition because I wasn't particularly olive focussed in August when the entries were finalised, but I wanted to see who was there and who was on the prize list. Meredith, our daughter, was a judge (she has been for several years) and also a sponsor of two prizes ( so maybe a good thing we didn't have an entry in, to avoid conflicts of interest!) What struck me initially was the change in the names of the groves represented. Only a few names were familiar to me from earlier years. When the industry first took off in the 1990s it was going to be the next big thing - remember ti tree oil, alpacas, emus ... Lots of people thought it was going to be a lovely activity as a retirement project which would top up their super ... Ten to fifteen years later and perhaps the scales have fallen from people's eyes. A lot of growers have sold up, or pulled out their trees, or just lost interest. The amount of work required proved difficult for ageing retirees, and the financial returns had not matched the earliest projections. Marketing has been difficult. Even the big growers who had investors and wonderful infrastructure have in many cases slunk off licking their wounds. So it was refreshing to see a new crop of names in the awards booklet, and new faces around the dinner tables. However I noticed that there are still a predominance of grey heads. It appears that an olive grove can work as an adjunct to another aspect of farming, or if the grove has contract harvesting and pressing services, or tourist facilities. But otherwise, small scale olive growing is maybe best seen as a hobby. And an expensive one!