Paringa Ridge named nation’s top grove

The Olive Centre, Olive Grove of the Year Award winners Julian and Jill Barson, of Paringa Ridge, with award sponsor Amanda Bailey (right)

One of the highlights of the annual National Extra Virgin Olive Oil Awards is the presentation of The Olive Centre, Olive Grove of the Year Award. The 2010 award went to boutique Mornington Peninsula growers Paringa Ridge.

Sponsored and co-ordinated by The Olive Centre’s Amanda Bailey since 2006, the award rewards and recognises olive groves providing an example of excellence in operation. Particular emphasis is given to continuing improvements in sustainable olive growing and production of high quality oil and/or table olives, and the inspiration of peers through shared experiences.

The Olive Centre’s Amanda Bailey said the number and quality of entries made choosing this year’s winner a difficult task.

“Many growers are trying to continually improve their groves,” she said.

“Paringa have taken good advice wholeheartedly and implemented the requirements as set out.  This grove demonstrates to boutique growers that they too can achieve great results, if the attention to detail is adhered to.

“The production per tree was particularly significant, and is where Paringa clearly stood out.”

Bailey said the judges were impressed by Paringa Ridge’s history of innovation in grove management, including:

  • 2006 – pilot trial of inoculation by antibiotic dowel insertion into trunks of infected trees;
  • 2008 – introduced monitoring Calcium requirements to minimise risk of pests and disease;
  • 2009 – one of the first groves in the area to use lower-risk loosening agents.

“In short, they use cutting edge answers to solving grove problems,” Bailey said.

“And the results have been impressive. Their high fruit and oil yields per hectare are similar to those of the best-performing groves in the country, despite being a 1000-tree grove in the rather marginal climate of the Mornington Peninsula.

“Even more impressive is that those yields have been achieved without compromising oil quality and this has been reflected in a number of gold medals, as well as Best in Class and Best in Show awards, over the past four years.

“They are also active beyond their own business, playing an important role within the Mornington Peninsula Olive Growing Association to promote the industry and the region’s products. Working together for the benefit of the industry as a whole is an important part of ensuring ongoing success for the Australian olive industry, so is in turn an important factor in determining the winner of this annual award.”

Paringa Ridge owners Jill and Julian Barson were at the presentation dinner in Adelaide, and were thrilled to collect their award.

“Julian and I feel excited and quite overwhelmed at the thought that the decisions made by us through the initial stages of our grove and since, have been recognised by others in the industry,” Jill said.

“Over the last seven years we have tried to approach problems and challenges as learning opportunities, and dealt with them in a measured and open-minded manner. This has led us to trying new and innovative solutions which, fortunately, have paid off.

“We would like to thank Modern Olives for their constant support and advice, because without their assistance we would have had a far more difficult journey.”

The Olive Centre, Olive Grove of the Year – judging criteria

The judges take a number of factors into consideration, including the nature of the grove (variety, age of trees), available resources, past and current yields, product quality and orchard management. Among other criteria, winners will demonstrate: ongoing improvement in the effectiveness and sustainability of orchard operations; practices in overcoming problems specific to the industry, grove or region; support of the local environment and/or community; and external involvement, including the sharing of practices pertaining to improvements.

Entrants are short-listed for final judging based on a written submission and crop data. Final judging is then conducted as an interview and property visit by an industry judging panel.

For more information contact The Olive Centre at: [email protected]

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