Sue and Greg O’Donoghue came to the Mornington Peninsula in 2002 when, after spending a weekend in Sorrento, they decided to drive through Main Ridge and Red Hill on the way home, saw a property with a big ‘for sale’ sign and on impulse took a walk around it. They quickly realised it was a beautiful place to bring up their young children, who were both less than 2 years old at the time, and an ideal place to fulfil their passion – to grow olives, grapes and have a food business. So they did the sea-change; buying themselves 27 acres in Red Hill, planting an olive grove the next year, and continuing to evolve the property into what it is today.
Their philosophy is all about food tourism so they have created a fully edible landscape. As visitors come down the driveway there are olives, grapes, sheep and chooks, and a large herb and vegetable patch. The produce from the property is then turned into value added food for people to eat. Their aim is to do things in a sustainable way. They catch their own rainwater and look after all our own waste on site. The food scraps are given to the chooks, who then produce nice healthy eggs, and they compost any of the other waste to use in the garden to grow more produce.
On their path to continually improve they have implemented a business management system with policies and procedures to monitor everything they do and enabled them to become a certified tourism business. Once they had achieved the accreditation they entered the Victorian Tourism Awards in the Food Tourism section; winning gold for Victoria, and going on to win silver at a national level in the Australian Tourism Awards.
Greg and Sue are proud to say that they love food – food that nurtures the heart and soul. For them it’s about sustainability. They aim to produce as much as they can themselves and the journey of the food and wine can be followed on site. The produce starts in the edible landscape, then moves into the kitchen where the fresh ingredients are transformed into produce, and then served to the customers as a range of tastings in a tapas style menu.
They also run a series of slightly different hands on cooking classes – a sort of education about sustainability and how you can grow things in your garden, then take them in to the kitchen and make something delicious that you can eat at the end. The most popular is the hand-made sausage class, where the Green Olive Wiltshire sheep that are specifically bred for meat are returned from the abattoirs to be combined with herbs picked form the garden and turned into tasty sausages. Another popular one is the hand-made pasta classes; making fresh pasta with produce from the Green Olive vegetable garden. A new offering is about the techniques of butchery – learning how to ‘break up’ a lamb, a quail and a chook.
Greg loves the Wine Food Farmgate Trail, and Green Olive has been involved since the start.” It really makes visitors aware of what’s here on the Mornington Peninsula. I love people coming in with the Wine Food Farmgate map, they might have a coffee here, then head off to Main Ridge Dairy, or Mocks to do a cider tasting. Its just a great way of getting around the peninsula!”
When Greg and Sue do get time off to spend with friends (which is not that often) they are lucky to have ‘just up the road’ or ‘around the corner’ some of their favourite Mornington Peninsula places. Like Foxeys Hangout; for great casual dining and great wine, or Mock Orchards; who serve beautiful apple cider, and Main Ridge Dairy (great neighbours); who Greg reckons ‘make the most beautiful cheese in Australia, if not the world’ - and he could be right.