I’m waxing lyrical to Tim Stone about his wood-smoked olive oil. It’s a gorgeous product, the smoke adding an extra element in a salad dressing or, my latest craze, a baba ganoush, the already smoky creaminess of the charred eggplant given added depth by this grand oil.

I’m not alone, as it happens: Tim tells me that a few local chefs use it regularly.  Olives are cold-smoked using cherry wood, hence that glorious intensity of flavour. We’re chatting at the stall he and a helper have been manning since taking over the business about six years ago with partner Lynne Ziehlke. The latter is behind the scenes, Tim says, handling production, planning and bookwork, but for both of them it’s a seven-day-a -week commitment. There’s the olive grove on their 40 acre property at Rosebank to look after, and rainforest regeneration which they are passionate about too. All this for a city couple, Tim with a background in television production, although when I ask if there’s any history of farming in his family he mentions an aunt at whose farm near Armidale he spent a lot of time in his youth.

He and Lyn have stayed true to the systems and processes they learned from original owners Denyse and Alan Hodgson.  ‘We’re still learning every day!’ Tim tells me. ‘We had very good clear instructions (when they took over the business) and will still call on Alan for advice.’ He says they have loads of ideas as to expanding the range but ‘it’s a matter of time!’, that most precious of commodities, although one thing they have introduced are the exceedingly popular packs of mixed olives. They’ve recently acquired a new grove, 800 olive trees of mixed varieties, west of Toowoomba, so watch this space!

Grumpy Grandma’s Olives are at Mullumbimby Farmers Market every Friday from 7 – 11am

Victoria Cosford