Olive Nursery


A change of focus

After supplying almost five million trees to more than 5000 olive growers, Ray and Delphine Archer of Olives Australia have decided to pursue other important goals.

Ray and Delphine announced in late May that their wholesale nursery at Grantham in southern Queensland was ceasing operations as a nursery but that Olive Australia’s sister company, Olive Agencies, would continue operations ‘as usual’.

“There are two things I need to stress,” Ray said. “First, our nursery customers, many of whom have supported us for many years, will continue to be looked after, and second, The Olive Centre will continue to supply quality tools and equipment to the industry.”

“Regarding trees, Greg O’Sullivan of Australis Plants will supply olive trees in the future. Greg was our horticultural consultant for a number of years and has always had very high standards in regards to tree quality, and is widely experienced in all aspects of the olive industry. To obtain the latest information on the olive industry and to order trees please visit the Australis Plants website: www.australisplants.com.au

Ray and Delphine’s interest in the olive industry began in 1976 when they began taking propagation wood from their sole olive tree. They owned a fruit and nut tree nursery in the Lockyer Valley, and in the early days they considered an order of 20 olive trees to be a large one. During the late 1990s their nursery began receiving orders for 100,000 or more trees from individual growers.

Reasons for success

Ray and Delphine attribute their success to several factors including hard work, commitment, willingness to step out in faith, the help of friends and the virtues of the very important olive.

“We could see years ago that the world was waking up to something that the Mediterranean countries had known for several thousand years - olives and olive oil are not only tasty, but very good for our health,” Ray said. “And many parts of Australia had the climate and resources to produce a successful industry.”

“One of the things that helped us was the use of new technology. For example, our son Julian established an ‘olive’ internet web site in 1997 and this attracted significant interest, including enquiries from more than 70 countries.”

“In 1995 the nursery introduced its first newsletter, an eight page publication produced on a photocopier. The newsletter grew in readership and became the Australian Olive Grower magazine.”

“People were hungry for information about olive growing and we began holding regular olive information days which attracted up to 500 people from throughout the country.”

Award for Excellence

The company’s contribution to the rural sector was recognised nationally in 1999 when Ray and Delphine were presented with the Rural Enterprise Award Trophy at the Rabobank Agribusiness Awards for Excellence in Melbourne.

In addition to internal research, Ray said that Olives Australia spent more than $1,000,000 on industry research and development, including the support of regional olive associations, over a ten-year period.

“Olives Australia has also been privileged to provide substantial support to charitable projects over recent years - more than $360,000 was donated in 1998/99 alone. None of this could have been achieved without the support of our customers and other friends in the industry”.

“We’ve experience many challenges in the industry in the past ten years, but we’ve also experienced a great deal of joy and personal satisfaction. We’ve had the privilege of working alongside many dedicated people and organisations as we all sought to strongly develop the olive industry in Australia. Organisations such as the Australian Olive Association, the many regional associations and state agricultural departments. Just one of the reasons Delphine and I have so much faith in the future of the industry is that there are so many capable and committed growers, processors, consultants and marketers in this country.”

As to the future?

“Delphine and I have 11,000 trees planted on our Brisbane Valley property and, like thousands of other olive growers in this country, we look forward to producing quality table fruit and olive oil for the Australian market. We also have a company called Olive Products Australia which produces a growing range of healthy olive products, particularly a very high `strength olive leaf extract, which has an exciting future.”

Ray said that he and Delphine were going to devote some time to ‘non-olive’ interests as well.

“In the past, we’ve had a tendency to have too many irons in the fire, and this can put your life out of balance,” he said. “We hope to devote more time to personal goals such as travel.  We’ve done a lot of olive-related travel in past years, but we’ve never had the time to ‘stop and smell the roses’. We intend to remedy that.”

Ray recently returned from Nepal where his son Julian is an administrator for a large charitable organisation.

“I fulfilled one of my goals while I was there by hiking with Julian to the base camp at Mt Everest. There are plenty more mountains to climb in this remarkable world and Delphine and I plan to make the time to climb some of them”.