Take a tour of the Mon­gog­a­rie olive farm

The olives taste so good at Mon­gog­a­rie that even the kan­ga­roos are turn­ing Ital­ian

Northern Rivers Style - - CONTENTS - SU­SANNA FREYMARK

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."

VISIT

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.

PHO­TOS: SU­SANNA FREYMARK

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.

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