How you can support flood-affected businesses

2022 has begun as another challenging year, with the flood disaster being recorded as one of the worst for Eastern Australia.

We chat to two certified organic members, who share their stories and how you can support them as they begin to rebuild.

Olive Gap Organic Farm

Tara O’Rielly, Owner and Farmer

Olive Gap Organic Farm located in Woodburn, NSW, is a family team of young farmers, specialising in native Australian essential oils and seasonal flowers. Tara and her husband Alex produce small-batch artisan tea tree oil products which are grown, distilled and bottled all on their off-grid farm with traditional wood-fire steam distillation. With a clear mission to produce the cleanest and greenest essential oils in the world, Olive Gap is the first Australian Tea Tree farm to be certified organic, regeneratively farmed and carbon positive.

How have you been impacted by the recent floods? 

Tara O’Rielly: We’ve been hit pretty hard by the catastrophic Northern Rivers floods.

We woke in the early hours of the morning to our farm being inundated by a giant lake of water. Our farm has only ever experienced minor flooding, so we were caught completely by surprise as the levels reached higher and higher than ever before.

We started by rescuing all the animals. The little calves that were exhausted from battling the flood water had collapsed in a heap in a line along our fence line. With the help of neighbours, we managed to gather them all in the back of the ute before the road went under, then paddled them across paddocks so they could access their mums. Our goats were up to their necks in water, still sitting in their pen. We managed to kayak them out just in the nick of time.

The shipping container storing our brand new packaging for our product launch, which had only arrived a few days before, was already going under. With a group of friends, we created a chain gang through floodwater to try and save it and our freshly harvested tea tree oil. In the end, we swapped to kayaks. We managed to save all the essential oil and ½ of the packaging before the shed was fully submerged.

Our distillation gear also went under and we tied all the equipment to trees and buildings before it was fully submerged so that it wouldn’t float away. The losses are huge, and nearly everyone we know in the neighbouring towns of Woodburn and Lismore have lost their homes and everything they own.

All in all, we have also been lucky. By saving ½ of our packaging, we thankfully have something to focus on and the sale of our products will help get us back on our feet.

How can consumers support you?

Tara O’Rielly: Pre-order sales are helping us to get back on track!

We were so excited to be releasing our new tea tree products in April, and we still plan to do so. By pre-ordering, you will not only be helping us get back on our feet, but you’ll be getting the highest quality artisan distilled Australian native essential oils you can buy.

Individuals can order directly from our website and we’d love stores to get in touch who think we’d be a good fit. Our packaging has been lovingly designed by our friend and traditional custodian Aunty Simone. It tells the story of our local tea tree creek in Bandjalang country, a sacred women’s area due to its known healing properties. $1 from every box sold goes towards Bandjalang youth projects in our area.

Ordering is now available on our website.

For wholesale enquires, email Tara: info@olivegapfarm.com.au

Sherwood Rd Organic Meats

Amy Tiller, Owner

Sherwood Rd Organic Meats located in Rocklea, Qld is a certified organic retail butcher shop selling all meats including game, fish, ready meals, wine, and grocery items. Amy’s family started the business in 2013 when her father, an organic lamb, goat, and cattle producer from Roma, had a dream to sell his meats direct to the consumer, cutting out the ‘middle-men’. They soon outgrew their small shop in Sherwood and built a stunning new shop next to Market Organics at Rocklea in 2018.

How have you been impacted by the recent floods? 

Amy Tiller: The floods took us completely by surprise. We were not around in 2011 to experience flooding and like many, thought it was unlikely to happen again. For our staff and customers’ safety, we decided to close the shop when access became compromised.

Even when our business was cut off completely we still didn’t believe water would enter the store. The feeling of helplessness when we learned we were 1.25m underwater was something we will never recover from.

It was nearly three days and no power before we could re-enter to start the clean-up. Staff, family, friends and loyal customers turned up with equipment, cleaning products, lighting, and snacks aiming to remove all meats from the premises as quickly as possible. Our equipment was also lost and refrigeration units beyond repair, luckily only some walls were damaged.

With power restoration mostly out of our control, we were unsure of when we could start to restock and plan our reopening, therefore loss of business was a huge concern. Luckily we had an incredible team of tradespeople who dropped everything to get us to a point where we could open the doors to the public. This took 17 days from our last day of trading, a miracle really!

As many know, floods are an incredibly traumatic experience. Seeing everything you work so hard to make perfect in ruin is heartbreaking, and the feeling that it will never be the same still looms over us.

The cost is still accumulating as we restock our products and purchase everything. Then there is also the fear of going through it again. We did, however, take comfort in the thought that we would not be starting from scratch after the flood. We knew we had loyal customers waiting eagerly for us to reopen and seeing their faces come back through our doors was like sunshine through the clouds!

How can consumers support you?

Amy Tiller: We have had so much support from our organic community, but it is those people coming in to buy our (and our farmers) beautiful meats for their families that are keeping us going. We would love to see you in-store, and if traveling is an issue our online packs can be delivered or collected from Northey St Organic Market on a Sunday. We hope to see you soon!

You can also support us by coming along to our Back to Business BBQ on Saturday, 9 April 2022 from 8am! The morning will include Saturday specials, wine tasting, meat dishes to try, giveaways and more!

Visit the store: 385 Sherwood Rd (on Sherwood Rd, not inside markets) Rocklea Qld 4106

Contact Amy for orders: info@sherwoodrdorganics.com.au  

Images: Supplied

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