Bella Mia Olive Trees
We had reached the age and stage where city living was becoming an effort. We were constantly reminded that we were now "soft targets", and this made us feel vulnerable and, let's face it, OLD. When we put our Pretoria property in the market, friends wanted to know whether we'd be moving to a retirement village. To their astonishment, we informed them that we were going to farm.
We were uncertain as to exactly what we wanted to do and even where we wanted to do it. We wanted a small farm, preferably developed and functional some-were in the Southern Cape. We were prepared to live in an ugly house, provided it could be fixed. The infrastructure of a garden had to be in place. The area had to be pretty. There had to be lots of water.
The birth of Bella-Mia
We bought a lucerne land halfway between Oudtshoorn and the Cango Caves. The only box that could be ticked was the area, which is absolutely beautiful. Before we bought the land, we consulted with the Agricultural Research Council in Oudtshoorn. With their advice in our pocket we decided that, that all things considered, we wanted to plant olive trees. We named our farm Bella-Mia, after our two granddaughters, Isabella and Mia.
Building a house in the Karoo is different from building a house in the city. It happened so slowly. Totally underestimating the time it would take, we gave up our rental home in the village, and moved into an unpainted house, without a front door, steps to the loft or bed room on different levels, and for the first 24 hours geysers. The gem of a gas stove was still uninstalled. We returned to our rented house in the village for a hot shower and food on that first night.
Developing the farm was a totally different story. We had enough level land for 2 200 olive trees, and we would do it all ourselves. We would press the oil, and pickle the olives. We would promote and sell the products, after all how difficult could it be? We knew we would not be able to compete with the big guys, so we would make our products super special.
A labour of love
And that is exactly what we are doing. We only have two workers helping on the farm, who know nothing about olive farming, which means that everything happens with our knowledge and participation. It also means that a tremendous amount of work has been done to gather all the information needed. Suppliers of everything from trees to equipment, packaging and advertising, had to be researched. Originally it was a great learning curve. We are still novices, we still do masses of research, but it is becoming easier. We have learnt whom to trust, and where to turn to for advice. Slowly we have come to know what clients expect from our product. We have also learnt that some don't know what to expect. Today we can proudly say that we possess our own olive press and produce "cold pressed extra virgin unfiltered olive oil". Unfiltered oil ensures that all the goodness and nutritional characteristics of the olive is captured. We also make table olives using the traditional method to guarantee the best quality.
You can taste this philosophy of hands-on care and attention to detail in our products - which we offer to you with great pride.