For some people, farming is a way of life from a young age, for Mary L Done from Wymah Organic Olives and Lamb, it was a path chosen due to a love of science, chemistry, anatomy and a fascination of how the earth, animals and humans come together.
Growing up with a father who was a bio-chemist and a long career in medicine herself, Mary left her career as an anaesthetist to buy a farm in the Wymah Valley, 400 kilometres north of Melbourne just over the border in New South Wales.
When Mary purchased the farm 21 years ago, her business started by selling and breeding stock, but with an appreciation for the ecosystem the land presented, she expanded the size of the farm and added olive plantations.
Passionate about organic farming, the decision to plant olives came from understanding the role the climate and the soil plays in producing a productive crop naturally. To that end, in 2011, olives joined the Wymah Organics brand alongside its lamb products. Building an integrated farm with rotational grazing, everything works together and the animals complement the olives.
While positive customer feedback drives Mary more than accolades, her kalamata olives recently won a series of awards at the 2020 Australian International Olive Awards, including, Campion Table Olive by Class, Best of Australian, Best of Southern Hemisphere, Best Table Olive of Show, and a Gold Medal in the category of Table Olives.
The olives are picked, processed and packed on-site, stored in a purpose-built insulated warehouse with fridge panels kept at a mild 18 degrees all year round, which is crucial when working with a fermented product that needs constant attention.
Location and distance prove to be a double-edged sword for Wymah Organics. Although its location is what makes the product so special, the distance proves challenging in moving the goods to a wider market through cold transportation.
Over the past 21 years, Mary has grown to understand how the pace of farm life hums – from the ancient hills and history of the land, spanning over 900 acres and with vertical climbs awarding views to the nearby snowfields. The farm is home to local wildlife, with 22 per cent set aside for regeneration.
Business aside, how the land has transformed from bare hills to a constantly improving biodiversity is something Mary is immensely proud of.
If you’re a lover of lamb or olives, find out about how to shop Wymah Organic Label or shop online for the best local produce in the Murray here.