Williamstown Garden Club August 2018 gathering

Williamstown Garden Club competition winner Connie Hodgson with ‘Woodlands’ Olive Oil owners Hazel and Phil Afford.
Williamstown Garden Club competition winner Connie Hodgson with ‘Woodlands’ Olive Oil owners Hazel and Phil Afford.

During Williamstown Garden Club’s August meeting, members had the pleasure of listening to Phil Afford speak about his ‘Woodlands’ Olive Oil business.

He shared, how he and wife Hazel produce the oil from olives they grow, without sprays and with minimal irrigation, at their Cockatoo Valley property.

Mr Afford said that growing olives was a retirement project which they were comfortable with as they had both grown up on the land.

Their interest in olives came about when they were introduced by their daughter-in-law to cooked meals using olives and olive oil.

Prior to this, Mr Afford revealed how he had not been overly keen on olives.

The Affords have been in the business for 20 years and during that time have had about 40 volunteers, through the WWOOF program (Willing workers on Organic Farms) from overseas, spend various amounts of time with them.

Members also learned about the early introduction of olive trees into South Australia.

165 years ago, secretary to Colonel Light, George Stephenson, imported several trees from the Mediterranean region because Australia’s temperate climate was ideal for olive production.

Many century old olive trees known as Colonials still bearing high quality fruit in SA.

Olive oil production is assumed to have started before 4000 BC.

The earliest surviving olive oil amphorae date is 3500 BC (Early Minoan times) and Mr Afford showed members photos of ancient olive trees around the world that were still bearing fruit.

The oldest tree, estimated at over 3000 years old, is found at Vouves, Crete, and still produces olives.

Members were able to sample the Afford’s olive oil during the course of a soup lunch and afternoon tea.

The Affords were asked to judge the succulents and cacti competition with Connie Hodgson announced the winner.

The mystery plant of the month was identified by Eve Searle as Scilla Violacae, commonly known as a silver squill or wood hyacinth.

Birthdays for this month are: Bill, Felicity, Kim, Jan and Marie.

The next meeting of Williamstown Garden Club is September 3 and guest speaker is Greg Ruckert of the Lillium and Bulb Society.

The competition will be Spring flowering plants.

Members are reminded that the next meeting is September 24, and to meet at the Hall at 1pm to visit three local gardens ending with afternoon tea at the last garden. There is no meeting in October.

Visitors welcome and for more details, phone Pat on 0421 348 148.