While Cobram Estate, the proudly Australian supermarket brand that has won awards around the globe, brings the region to mind, the brand’s main grove is actually 300 kilometres up the Murray River at Boundary Bend where there’s a 3000-hectare plot with 1.3 million trees. Rich Glen, with 36,000 trees, along with Stangrove Olives and Cockatoo Grove, are more boutique offerings, and their success is testament to the region’s Mediterranean-esque suitability to olive growing.
It hasn’t always been easy. Five years ago there was no money in growing olives commercially, Ros tells me. “At one point, the family were contemplating ripping out the grove to farm a more profitable crop.”
Then, as a value add-on to the business, the family moved out of the property’s heritage home and turned it into the farmgate store and cafe (Ros is a trained chef). It was a success. Now, cafe patrons sit at tables under the old veranda to dine on a menu featuring produce from venues on the region’s Farm Gate Trail including Katamatite Garlic and Boosey Creek Cheese. There are also “soups and salads picked fresh from the garden”, which is a sprawling green Murray-irrigated oasis with a ‘vege maze’, children’s cubby and garden, an oversized chess game and local art installations.
The store is stocked with 150 products, from big tins of extra virgin olive oil, olive leaf teas and table olives to bags of pasta and homemade sauces, relishes, cordials, dukkah and granola. The 60 or so natural body products now make up 40 per cent of the business. The aforementioned body oil is the most popular product. “Not bad considering a friend and I first started experimenting with them in a Thermomix,” Ros says.