Martin and Sophie’s liquid gold
Tasmania is establishing itself as the perfect place for growing olives.
The cultivation of olives can be traced back to the Mesopotamia region 7 000 years ago. Today a love of olives has spread far and wide, with Tasmania now known for its high quality olive produce. This includes at Lentara Grove in the Tamar Valley near Launceston, Tasmania, where Sophie and Martin Grace are producing award winning olive oil products.
Martin Grace was born and raised in Tasmania. His father’s job saw the family move regularly, allowing Martin to experience Tasmania’s diverse landscapes from a young age. A dream to work on the land and explore its possibilities have been with Martin ever since.
After leaving the state to work, Martin returned in 2013 with his dream to work on the land still top of mind. His return included meeting a new partner, Sophie, who had also recently moved to the state. The pair later married. “We both loved the idea of running our own olive grove and everything started from there.”
In 2015 Lentara Grove came up for sale, offering over 700 mature olive trees on 20 hectares and with established processing facilities onsite. Martin and Sophie seized the opportunity. Despite both having desk jobs, the couple learnt the ropes of olive growing and pressing, and quickly turned their new hobby into a thriving business.
“It’s an exciting time for the industry here and Tasmania is really establishing itself as the perfect place for growing olives,” says Martin, adding that it is more than just Tasmania’s longer daylight hours over spring and summer that makes for the best growing conditions. “There is a passion here for creating superior produce with plenty of character, and when you combine this with complementary foods produced with this same passion, the quality just builds and builds.”
Martin and Sophie are big on quality and are already seeing results. After just one year they are well-established on the national stage. They have collected silver awards from the Australian Olive Association and Royal Adelaide Olive Show and received a special mention at the International Sol D’Oro awards. The couple are now planning to expand production of their grove in terms of both produce and products. They have planted 433 new trees and have another 300 on the way.
They’re also making use of other wonderful local ingredients, such as Tasman Sea Salt to expand their offerings.
The Graces are passionate about olives and have discovered the culinary enjoyment of olives is just one of its many uses. “We’ve just begun selling our own range of skin care products, and we’re getting lots of great feedback about it – particularly from people with sensitive skin. It contains natural ingredients and really captures the essence of what Tasmania is about.”
Martin says that it is not only Tasmania’s natural environment which draws people here, but a combination of the people, the accessibility and the strong sense of place. “But above all, it has to be the lifestyle. It just doesn’t compare to anywhere else.”
To read more stories about how moving to Tasmania is turning business dreams into reality, check out our Business Section.