Good Hustlers: Fiona Makowski || FreshField Grove

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Farmer Fi from FreshField Grove Olives is one of those gorgeous good hustlers that I had never come across, then suddenly, I saw her and their products everywhere. Like fate and kismet having a baby, it is a complete joy to find dharma driven souls just getting shiz done, knitted into their community, and making a damn fine product to boot. How did Farmer Fi transform from Doctor Fi into her current olive growing, pressing, oil evangelist foodie incarnation? Read on and meet the epitome of how you stay present, connected and reflective with some great tips...

"There are loads of different things that led me to this point, not least of which was meeting my Tasmanian husband in the UK over 15 years ago. Without meeting him it seems unlikely I’d have ended up in Tassie, but I think the way I was working in my medical career was probably unsustainable in the long term, so something would have changed at some point. We both independently loved the idea of living in a more rural setting and being self-sufficient to some degree, and this concept kind of blossomed with both of us to support it.

We started looking seriously for land in Tassie (still living in the UK at this point) and through this discovered that the state had an olive industry. A fair bit more research later (I love finding stuff out), and a trip to Italy had us convinced that the Tasmanian olive industry had good potential for growth. There’s undoubtedly a kind of romantic aspect to the idea too though, and I’m deeply drawn to the olive tree as an entity that can live for thousands of years and continue to produce fruit. I hope our trees will live on long after we’re gone!

From that point though, we started looking specifically for land that either had established olives, or the potential to support them. During this period we relocated from the UK to Sydney, and not long after that we found our farm was on the market. It had been for sale a couple of years previously, and we had even viewed it during a holiday and loved it but weren’t in a position to make a decent offer. This time round was different though, and it felt like fate!

1. Describe your business in one powerful sentence.

I make delicious Tasmanian Extra Virgin Olive Oil to inspire people who love distinctive flavours and who enjoy getting creative in their kitchens.

2. How do you integrate service to others in your business model?

I believe that everyone should have access to nutritious food and the knowledge and confidence to be able to prepare it for themselves and others. To me it’s partly about fairness and equality, and partly about education. Much of the information that’s presented to us about food and health is biased in some way, and I think it’s important that people can assess the information available and come to their own conclusions about what’s right for them. I try to provide open and honest information about how I produce my olive oil and other products and how I use it, and I hope that’s of use to those people that come across it when they’re making decisions about what food to buy, cook, and eat.

3. What were some of the highlights and lowlights of your journey to where you are now?

There’s quite a few of both! And it’s easy to let the highlights pass by because they’re often kind of “little wins”, and there’s always something else going on! I remember the day we got the keys to the farm, it felt so surreal… We’d been aiming for that moment for so long, and there were so many twists and turns, so when we drove in for the first time and it was actually ours, that was pretty special. Another was the first time we got oil out of the press. I’d just been following the (not very extensive) instruction manual that the previous owners left for us, but there’s a lot more too it than the manual leads you to believe. And some of the neighbours who we didn’t know had come to help, and watch. So when the oil eventually started trickling out I was over the moon.

In terms of lowlights, this year I’ve been really disappointed that we’ve had almost complete failure of our crop, due to a combination of factors including my heavy (but necessary) pruning, and poor weather at important times. But it’s given me the opportunity to think about other parts of the business I can develop, such as contract pressing and developing a line of table olives.

4. Do you have a spiritual practice?

I wouldn’t really describe things I do as spiritual, but I’m getting more aware of what things make me feel connected to the world. I’ve been meditating on a semi-regular basis for about 18 months using an app, and it definitely helps me see what’s going on in my head (too much generally!) Yoga is something I’ve tried on and off - I’m doing an online course at the moment. Being active outside and being with animals is something that really makes me feel connected, and I recently started taking horse riding lessons, which I love and which requires my undivided attention.

5. Advice for others who want to start their own good hustle?

Something that’s happened to me, and still happens from time to time is not getting the response I hope for when I tell someone about my business. Kind of like they just don’t get it. And this is something that always makes me feel really rubbish! I think sometimes I’ve told the “wrong” person – just because someone’s a good friend or family member doesn’t mean they’ll be my ideal customer. Sometimes though it’s definitely the way I’ve explained what I’m trying to achieve. So I guess my advice is number 1 - choose who you tell. And number 2 – use the responses to improve your “elevator pitch” by seeing which aspects gain the excitement you want.

Polly McGee