Olive farmers Leon and Imogen Bettio have their own take on the sustainable food ethos, “Paddock to Plate”. Cutting out the crockery middleman, the motto of their one-year-old business, Elisi Grove, is “Farm to Face”.
The husband and wife team make the trip from their Maroubra home to the Springwood Growers Market each month, after being impressed by the response from Blue Mountains locals following their very first visit this July.
“I think people up here are wanting something as natural as possible, which we are excited about because we are producing a product that’s as natural as possible,” said Ms Bettio.
The couple’s olives are grown on a fertile strip of land between the Adelaide Hills and the cliffs of the Murray River in Woodlane, South Australia. They bought the 23-acre grove from a traditional Italian farmer, now in his 70s, but still keen to pass on his knowledge to the grove’s new custodians.
“Even though he’s sold the grove, he still rings me every week and asks how’s it going,” said Mr Bettio.
The olives are cold pressed at nearby Rio Vista Olives' press owned by Mr Bettio’s brother and father, allowing them to be picked and crushed within hours - the key to creating Elisi Grove’s distinctive flavours.
“Each variety has its own distinct flavour,” said Mr Bettio. “We really wanted to explore that and see which ones pair better with different foods, giving people a chance to taste and compare.”
They are obviously doing something right. Their olive oils were awarded one gold medal and two silver medals at the Australian International Olive Awards in Adelaide on October 10 as well as two silver medals at the Royal Adelaide Show this August. Springwood market-goers have been quick with their praise after tasting the varieties.
“It’s so nice [to get feedback from customers] because you do all this work in the background and then to actually share it with people is really awesome,” said Ms Bettio. “We love it.”
Mr Bettio moved to Sydney from South Australia 12 years ago, while his wife’s family are from Richmond in the Hawkesbury region. But it turns out, when you own an olive grove in South Australia, everyone wants to get involved.
“We’ve got about 20 friends who want come over and help with the harvest next year. I’m trying to work out how we organise it - will they actually be helpful!?” said Mr Bettio. “But it’s the kind of thing that people connect with.”
For more details visit http://www.elisi.com.au/ or the Facebook page, Elisi Grove. The next Springwood Growers Market will be held on Sunday, October 22.