A beautiful thing to behold & taste

bulletin-april-14It is with great joy and relief that I can now say that this year’s olive oil is a beautiful thing to behold and the taste…well, it is superlative. Not biased at all!!

Tea drying at this time of year is usually the best. Not too hot, not too cold, just right. The extreme heat of summer can sometimes burn both the green and olive leaves if I am not careful. The gentle heat of winter is slower but easier to control. Except when there is rain, which is not at all helpful when there is a large solar drier involved.

Sunny-obi-obi-essentialsHowever the upside of this has been the ease of staying indoors and spinning the beautiful alpaca wool that is abundant. The high quality white wool that I am using at the moment will be dyed with indigo in August. So the rush is on to get as much done as possible.

Obi Obi Essentials, la Botiga and The Blackall Range Grower’s Market will be together again at the Nambour Garden Expo. This will be the last time Pat and I will be doing this event, so we look forward to seeing you there to share our last hurrah.

The Obi Obi Essentials, Bulletin has slowed to a trickle but hopes to be around again at the end of the year.

From our place to yours,

The Johnson family.

Getting Ready for Christmas

brian with roses

Another year is finishing and with it, a number of experiences had, new friends gathered and the impact of events both local and global felt. Amidst this pondering, I am, after another year of busyness, finalising product orders for Christmas and beyond.

Our oil sales both in the 250 ml, 500ml and the 20 litre drums continue to climb as more individuals, buyer’s clubs, co-ops and retail outlets hear about our product and make contact. Our tea sales, both the green and the olive leaf with the additions of lemon myrtle, ginger, chai and turmeric also continue to exceed our expectations. The only problem this year has been the drought which has particularly effected the green tea growth.

As some of you are aware, my two daughters, Sarah, Esther and I bought a café in Mapleton, La Botiga, at the beginning of the year. The new challenges and cafe hours have meant that something had to slip. Spinning and crocheting have been the casualties but after the settling in period is now behind me, I am looking forward to using the recently shorn alpaca wool once again in anticipation of being able sell some things in the shop.

With the expectation of a joyful Christmas and a fulfilling New Year,

From our place to yours,

The Johnson family.

Is it Sprummer?


Sarah with our Beautiful Brown Horse


Working outside as much as I do, the weather is always a topic of conversation and so after a month of beautiful, mild spring weather, I draw your attention to a new book called, “Sprinter and Sprummer: Australia’s Changing Seasons” by Tim Entwisle and published by CSIRO Publishing. Entwisle, head of Melbourne’s botanical Gardens, is one of our most engaging botanical experts and scientists. His observations led to devising a new five-season approach that takes its cues from our plants and environment. Sprinter covers August and September, sprummer occurs in October and November followed by summer which finishes at the end of March. Autumn is April and May and finally, winter is June and July. Interesting stuff!

Spring is also the time of new growth and new births and so we are waiting for the arrival of a foal from Annie. The only concern is that the eagerly awaited one does not have long ears courtesy of our donkey, Eeor, much better that it’s father is Mick, a beautiful Australian stock horse. I will let you how it goes next time.

From our place to yours,

The Johnson family.


Wedding under the Olive Trees

flowers-obi-obi-essentailsObi Obi Essentials
September Bulletin 2014

Another Sunday afternoon in early spring down in the Obi, so the pear tree is full of beautiful white blossoms and the other productive trees are promising fruitfulness. There are white pews congregated in the larger lane between the olive trees with an archway at the end. White flags are strung up along the fence on one side and bottles hang from the olive branches on the other waiting for an old combie van to drive through. A group of beautiful young men dressed in dark pants, white shirts with braces and bow ties all with their hair neatly groomed wait at their cars drinking a beer and laughing with self-consciousness and long term camaraderie. Of course, an outdoor wedding ceremony and the skies are threatening. I speak to the groom, what do you say when the one thing you have no control over threatens to spoil THE DAY? Then he says ”It’s okay, that colour sky will make great photos!” Ahhh, this wonderful couple are going to be just fine.

August was filled up with research for Finding Common Ground, (our not-for-profit organisation aimed at promoting local food networks) reading and summarising thirty five documents from the Sunshine Coast Region, from Queensland and Australia about agri-business, then synthesising and categorising for the local and state governments. The new Sunshine Coast Economic Development Strategy classifies agriculture as one of the seven high valued industries. A taskforce is working out an action strategy to assist this sector to grow in strength and vibrancy and this new research document will contribute to that.

Now it is time to get back outside and reconnect to what is happening. The new friends and acquaintances, who for a variety of reasons get in touch with us, allow that transition to happen pretty easily as their questions allow me to get back to my core activities, thank you! The thousand olive trees are a large part of that productive tree bit and so it is always with some concern that I watch September unfold, hoping that the very small bunches of white olive flowers will again miraculously appear by the end of the month.

From our place to yours,

The Johnson family.

August Bulletin 2014

The Olive Trees

Obi Obi Essential’s Olive Grove

“Farmers don’t have holidays!” I was told with large doses of seriousness. Well this one did! Coming back to the farm after a week away, this time, as always, allows me to see it afresh and with renewed energy. I highly recommend sea kayaking around the Whitsundays, camping and spending large amounts of time reading, swimming and snorkelling as a great change of pace. But now I am back and, the grey green of the olive trees looks more intense against the frost burnt grass. The particular burnish tinge on the growing winter vegies is a reassuring sign that the season’s cold weather is finally doing its thing. The sound of the mother cows calling out to their babies sometimes during the day, but usually at night is both annoying and reassuring. The winter bird calls changing through the day are as always a salute to the beauty of these tranquil days.

Richie, my inspiration and hard worker of the market garden has gone to England for two months to do some DJing gigs at a few music events as well as check out a particular permaculture farm in Sweden. He is already missed. However his friend and fellow farming enthusiast has stepped up to the challenge and travelled from Victoria to help maintain the garden during Richie’s absence. So with Aaron’s help, the bandicoot fence continues to be built and maintained, the green house continues to be constructed, seedlings are being planted out and more seeds planted in and the compost is being turned.

Obi Ob Essentials will not be selling product at the Real Food Festival this year as owning a café with my two daughters has changed the focus of this business away from markets. However, I have the privilege of being a presenter both singularly, presenting the topic, ”Food Sovereignty, is there a growing gap between what the consumer expects and what the farmer can deliver? A producer’s perspective.” and with Chris from the restaurant, “Hungry Feel” in Buderim on the Sunday morning. I look forward to seeing you there.

From our place to yours,

The Johnson family.


July Bulletin 2014


Although Obi Obi Essentials will not be attached to a stall at the Garden Expo in Nambour, Sarah and I are still going, but this year to put more of a hole in our pockets. There are new fruit trees to buy now that the archway has been dismantled in the old vegie garden and re-constructed in the market garden as a greenhouse. The fruit trees that are being seriously considered are as many varieties of apple trees as possible and some more cumquats. The garden expo also means choosing more cottage garden flowers to plant around the house gardens. This is all the more important as there is a wedding happening here in August and another in September. So I can’t think of a better reason to buy more plants!

Constructing a greenhouse in the market garden means that we can produce our own seedlings to a size of viability that allows them to survive when planted instead of being munched when really tiny. There are still seeds that go directly into the ground such as carrots peas and beans but some of the others need more care.

Spinning beautiful soft black wool is the thing to be doing on these cold winter evenings. And now that my spinning wheel is well and truly fixed (thank you Robert), there is plenty to be done. Crocheting classes are going well too. There are still opportunities to be had to enjoy the winter sun on the veranda while doing your first project or, if it suits better, meeting at the café and having a lesson there over a cup of coffee.

From our place to yours,

The Johnson family.

June Bulletin 2014

Idogt is always humbling owning animals and having them prove you wrong. The Dexters (small black cows) are a good case in point! Six months ago we sold the bull as he and one of the girls were always getting out. There was also the issue that he seemed to prefer the company of our drought master steers to the girls and the idea of progeny from him seemed to be rather remote. But,, Shaun, come back, all is forgiven, so far we have three beautiful dark brown calves with black points (he was brown). Such is life!

This beautiful spring like weather has meant that ticks are still around. So, it is with great sadness that I have to report the passing of McDuff , a rascal of a cocker spaniel, always making us laugh and always so loyal. Unconditional love was his middle name and the farm is the poorer for his going.

Finally, the market garden is powering on with winter vegies starting to be ready for picking. The establishment of seedling trays has been a great success as the many bugs and other greeblys seem less inclined to do quite so much damage when the seedlings have a bit of bulk behind them on planting. If anyone has had success with blue-tongued lizards for getting rid of slugs, I would love to hear from you as this seems an easier alternative to ducks. Sarah has her hand hovering over a couple of them on gumtree, so quick someone, blue-tongues.

From our place to yours,

The Johnson family.

May Bulletin 2014

chooksAutumn this year means partnerships (as usual), beautiful black alpaca wool, native bees and chooks in the market garden I had a wonderful conversation with a restaurant owner in an IGA isle and our discussion moved onto alpacas. It is really hard to get good quality coloured wool as all the good breeding is usually concentrated on the white alpacas because they can command a better price.

A couple of days later, Sarah arrived home with a car load of luxurious black and caramel wool. Helen had dropped it off at our café and I am now enjoying evenings near the fire spinning some beautiful black wool. Thank you Helen!

The plumber visited the farm last week because we had problems with the irrigation for the market garden. After John and Bryn fixed the blockages, conversation turned to native bees. It turns out Bryn’s Dad has a hive in his water metre, so this weekend will see Richie with the help of Ian, transferring the bees into a box and then into the market garden.

Finally, the chook tractor is now at home in the vegie patch and the plastic-electric fencing finally arrived. Initially the chooks snuck out through the holes, but the electricity (solar-powered) has now kicked in and the hens are on the right side of the vegies!

From our place to yours,

The Johnson family.



April Bulletin 2014


bulletin-april-14 I love having the opportunity of looking at the farm through other people’s eyes. I think it gives me a whole new perspective and the sometimes needed energy to continue to strive towards the goal that seems out of reach. So it was when last Sunday over thirty five prospective farmers came to visit for the afternoon. We gently split them up into two groups and Richie did an excellent job in the market garden while I spoke about the history of Obi Obi Essentials and why we are where we are! Then there were the questions and that great opportunity to gain new insights into yourself and others. Thank you Elaine and Steve for organising this great afternoon. The heavens surely opened up the other week and now after having to turn on the pipes to try to control the flood of water, the place is looking excruciatingly beautiful in its rain soakedness and this evening another storm brought more top up and reasons to use the mower more seriously before the winter. As I work in the market garden either in the morning or afternoon it is joyful to watch the geese parade single file past the enclosed garden from the dam down to the now full and flowing creek. May there be good growth and vigour in the now planted seeds bringing the winter vegies!

From our place to yours,

The Johnson family.

March Bulletin 2014

olivepress01scBefore I ramble on about what is happening at our place, I want to sincerely acknowledge the terrible grief and hardship that so many of our farmers are experiencing in many parts of Queensland and New South Wales. For once I wish to use this space to respectfully suggest that there should be intense discussion about marginal farming land out west and the best way to use areas in places like the Mary Valley and the hinterland of the sunshine Coast where water is still available. For too long we have watch this wide brown land in
flood and drought, feeling helpless with the farmers and not asking how this
situation can be changed for the better.

Here in our utopia, olive picking in almost at an end as like many other groves
in south East Queensland this year we have experienced smaller crops.
However the oil is still superb and we are truly grateful that we have enough to
continue to supply our customers. Although it is always incredibly hot when
picking at the end of February it is with great joy that we are able to experience
the start of autumn mildness when continuing into March. This is truly entering
my favourite time of year with the cooler weather creeping in and great excuses
to have the fire going in the evenings.

With our dam still supplying water for the market garden, the vacant mounds
are being fertilised with alpaca manure, re-mulched and then planted out with a
wide variety of winter vegetable seeds. The bandicoots are causing us concern
as they love digging up the fresh areas after the seeds are lovingly put in their
new homes.

With the anticipation of some good heavy soaking rain,

From our place to yours,

The Johnson family.