From clever ideas, community grows

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A few months back, North Perth Primary school families did some fund raising that was slightly different to the usual cake stall, fun run or raffle.

They produced a top quality olive oil that sold out within weeks and netted the school a profit of $7000.

The project started when one of the Mum’s heard the idea of picking your own olives and pressing them into oil.  With an olive tree around almost every corner in North Perth, organiser Susie Johnston thought it would be an opportunity to get families involved in something that had “a sense of community spirit and get the kids a bit closer to nature and finding out where food comes from.”  There was no expectation of making any money, “The profit was a pleasant surprise.”

The idea took hold and as word of the project spread, the feeling of community support and momentum grew.

“There was an article in The Voice newspaper and the school had a stall at the Angove Street Festival where we asked people to donate the olives from their trees,” said  Susie.  “We had a big response from people not necessarily connected with the school.”

About 30 local residents offered up their trees to be picked – significantly more than what the school was expecting.

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With the goal of picking and pressing the oil in one weekend, about 20 families joined in, harvesting more than one tonne of olives.  Half of the families accompanied the olives up to the York Olive Oil Co. for the pressing. Susie said it was a great process for the kids to watch, “It was very visual, seeing the olives being weighed and loaded onto a conveyor belt to be washed and pressed. And we also had a picnic by the Avon River, so it was a great day out.”

And the resulting oil was so good, that the pressing company recommended the school enter it in the Perth Royal Show**.

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Just over 100 litres of oil was bottled in the school canteen by volunteers and 480 bottles of oil were sold at the school and a stall, supplied for free, at the Kyilla Community Farmers’ Market. The bottles were donated by local supplier Rock Candy and the City of Vincent paid for the pressing of the oil and for it to be entered into the Royal Show.

Would they do it again? “Maybe,” was Susie’s response. “We know what we’re doing now so it would probably be much easier next time.”

Sounds like a yes to me.

Postscript: The oil went on to win a prestigious Silver Medal in the boutique class in the 2013 Royal Show.

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* With thanks to Susie Johnston for the interview and photos
** The Perth Royal Show is an annual week long event hosted by the Royal Agricultural Society of WA – farmers, growers and producers from across the state enter their livestock or products into the show and its considered to be very prestigious to win one of their awards.

 

About Natalie

Natalie Hoye (me) is a Real Estate Sales Representative with Acton Mount Lawley who has lived and worked in the suburbs surrounding and nearby Beaufort Street for over 15 years. I love trying out new local cafes, shops and restaurants and am a big believer in supporting the local community and businesses. I have three gorgeous boys in my life (husband and two sons) and am blessed to be doing what I love in the areas I love. Read more about Natalie Hoye

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