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Seaside tree change

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Jane Doepel and Jerome Kalwij with their award-winning Sea View Ridge Olive Oils.

Reaching the end of a winding road through the sandy hills overlooking the Lancelin coast yields an unexpected joy – a tiny olive grove perched on top of the dune which was the surprise producer of some of Western Australia’s best boutique olive oil for 2023.

Whipped by the salty air and basking under the beating sun the established olive trees at Sea View Ridge are thriving in the Mediterranean-esque microclimate, and guests at the bed and breakfast can easily imagine themselves transported to the south of France as they relax under the dappled light in the limestone courtyards and lavender-filled gardens.

Olive-growing newbies Jane and Jerome are quick to point out they were not the architects of this dream, but when they stumbled upon the chance to buy the property last year, business included, they jumped at the opportunity to enjoy a tree-change by the sea.

“Dave the original owner planted the olive grove over 20 years ago, later purpose-building the house to include a 3 bedroom, two bathroom apartment on the ground floor which could be rented as self-catering short term accommodation,” explains Jane. With 6 grandchildren in Perth and a love of the ocean, the property represented an ideal semi-retirement for the couple who relocated from Torres Strait where Jerome was (quite coincidentally) crayfishing.

“When we bought the place we knew nothing about olives!” admits Jane. “Fortunately we sought advice from Michael and Tina at Redfield Park Olive Grove, who were really helpful – they told us ‘pick now!’ and we did.”

“A group of mates came up and we got it all picked and straight to the press at Redfield Park” says Jerome. “That was the oil we took to the Gidgegannup Field Day and won the Slow Food olive oil competition! – and we thought, maybe we’re onto something here!”

With nothing more than a curiosity to benchmark their newly acquired product, Jane and Jerome entered Sea View Ridge olive oil in the WA Olive Council Awards 2023 and were nothing less than thrilled to win Best Boutique Oil of Show as well as with several gold medals and a silver. “It was such a wonderful night – and we enjoyed meeting all the other producers,” says Jane.
With a reputation to uphold, the couple have taken their new venture seriously, researching and seeking guidance from other growers, taking particular heed to Michael’s advice – “You’ve got good oil, you’ve got good trees – look after them!”

The 294 trees were obviously doing well – but a little neglected, and when it was time for pruning Jane and Jerome examined each and every tree, a process which allowed them to dive deep into the health and wellbeing of each individually. Moving towards an organic style of farming, they stopped the spraying program altogether and added organic sheep manure, worm juice and even some seaweed to contribute to the natural soil health as well as applying an unusual sort of sunscreen to protect the trees. “We actually saw it first in a movie!” says Jane, referring to the striking lime-painted white trunks of the trees which helps reflect the heat.

Many of Sea View Ridge’s trees also bear names of friends and family members who, after coming up and taking part in the olive farming process, get to choose a tree of their own.
“The kids have all got a tree, they choose it and then they hammer the sign into the ground. Then they tell us why they chose it!” says Jane of the new family tradition.

Guests and visitors at Sea View Ridge can enjoy tastings of this award-winning oil in the tasting room, where oil and other local goodies are for sale. Jane and Jerome also frequent local markets, selling their oil at Jurien Bay Markets, Lancelin Night Markets and Hillarys Market.

If you’d like to learn more, follow them on Facebook at @Seaviewridgeolivegrove.