Green Olive at Red Hill has always been a business that prioritises sustainability. It's part of our philosophy to protect the environment that we are so lucky to live and work in, and we've made it a goal to do everything we can to be sustainable. We're going to share with you some of the ways that we conduct a sustainable business in the hope that you might be able to implement some of these strategies in your home or business.
We capture all our own water and store it in large above ground tanks. We use this water in the kitchen, in the bathrooms, as well as in our house, hidden away on the corner of the property. All irrigation for the farm comes from the large dam that collects water from the natural spring and general water runoff. All waste water is processed naturally. We treat waste water in an Aerator Treatment Plant which breaks water up into small droplets so that it makes contact with the air, helping get rid of bacteria and carbon dioxide. The treated water is then irrigated onto the paddocks through a process called Subsurface Irrigation. A Subsurface Irrigation System features thin pipes that run just under the surface of the ground and drip the treated water into the ground. This system works well because the water directly reaches the roots of the plants meaning that we don't waste water through runoff.
When we have kitchen leftovers, we feed them to the chooks or compost them with chook manure and return them to the garden. Not only is this better for the environment, but its also more economical! We don't have to buy as much food for the chooks or any kind of composting material since we can use our own. We also compost any paper that we no longer need by shredding it and mixing it in with leftover food and chook manure. We try to reduce the need for printing out pieces of paper as much as we can with electronic systems for document filing such as DropBox and online staff management systems. We also use the brand of toilet paper, ’Who Gives a Crap’ in all our farm toilets. This brand uses 100% recycled post consumer waste fibres to create their toilet paper, as well as donates 50% of their profits to WaterAid, a not-for-profit that builds toilets and improves sanitation in the developing world.
Recently, we have made a huge effort to reduce the amount of plastic we consume. We avoid using plastic containers for food storage and instead opt for more biodegradable materials. When we do need to use plastic or glass, we commercially recycle it. We are looking into getting rid of plastic straws and have started using biodegradable cups for takeaway coffees at the farm and tea tastings in our Melbourne store. The roof of our farm store also has photovoltaic panels which generate a large portion of our power.
We are also very passionate about sustainability through growing and cooking garden produce, which has inspired us to create an incredibly exciting sustainability change… our Kitchen Produce Paddock! While we already have a Kitchen Garden where we grow a lot of the produce used in our tapas dishes, the addition of a produce paddock will mean that we can grow substantially more produce to serve at Green Olive at Red Hill, as well as expand our menu to include a wider variety of unique produce. We’re so excited to make this change at the farm, and we hope that by having our guests see how easy it is to plant, grow and harvest fruit and vegetables, it will inspire them to grow their own plants, so that we can all help to create a more sustainable planet. It doesn’t have to be a huge change - even growing some basil or parsley in your kitchen window is a change for the better.
Our chefs are constantly learning and experimenting with different ways to use the produce that we grow - our head chef, Dave, has been experimenting with the ‘Root-to-Tip’ cooking method which involves trying to use every part of the produce that we grow. Dave is also very committed to being respectful when using animals in cooking and he sees using as much of the animal as possible as a way to ensure that we aren’t being wasteful or disrespectful with the animals that we eat.
We hope you’ve been able to take away some tips or ideas from this blog post! We’d be happy for you to contact us for any information or advice about implementing sustainable practices in your home or business as we believe it’s important that everyone does their bit to help protect the planet.