Take a tour of the Mongogarie olive farm
The olives taste so good at Mongogarie that even the kangaroos are turning Italian
AVISIT to the Mongogarie olive farm takes time. There is a lot of talking and walking between rows of olive trees with Angelo and Donato Leo.
Maria Leo is at the house baking a tasty orange cake with chia seeds.
The Leo family have lived on the farm for 28 years and have built guest accommodation The Lodge, and an oil processing shed – and planted more than 1110 olive trees.
"We have so many olives and no time to pick them all," Donato says.
The first olive tree was planted 20 years ago and the Leo family produce on average, 800-900 kilos of olives every year.
Some are pressed on site for virgin olive oil and the rest are sold at the Lismore Farmer’s Market every Saturday and in shops in Casino.
The Mongogarie olives are popular and Donato is worried they may run out of by the end of the year.
And the next harvest isn’t until the end of January running to late April in 2019.
Donato’s favourite olive is the "firm ones with a vinegary flavour."
"It’s a personal preference," he says.
"There are soft, black olives, firm green olives but most important is the pip to flesh ratio."
Donato checks the rows of olive trees as he talks about the biological approach he takes to farming.
"I do soil tests and we plant the trees (nine metres apart) so they have lots of room and get lots of sun," he says.
The grass is left to grow long as cover for predators of the insects that feed on the trees.
When the olives are ripe, everyone is enlisted to pick them. "The family, my wife and the kids help," Donato says. "Even the kangaroos start to become Italian and snack on the olives."
Mongogorie Olive Farm on Mongogorie Rd, signposted, about 27km from Casino. Call 6664 1254 to organise a farm tour. Olives sold every Saturday at Lismore Farmer’s Market.
DONATO’S OLIVES ASCOLANI
Olives are stuffed with cooked minced pork, veal and parmesan cheese, peeper, egg and minced onion.
The stuffed olive is crumbed and deep fried.
TOP: Family friend from Casino, Dick Beattie with Angelo and Donato Leo at the Mongogorie Olive Farm. MIDDLE: Maria Donato sorts the olives before they are pressed for virgin olive oil. ABOVE: The Leo family; Angelo, Maria and Donato Leo at Mongogorie.