Angelo, Maria and son Donato Leo open up their olive farm in Mongogarie.
Angelo, Maria and son Donato Leo open up their olive farm in Mongogarie. Photo: Richmond River Express

Leo family branch out into olive farming at Mongogarie

A VISIT to the Mongogarie olive farm involves a lot of talking and walking between the rows of 1100 olive trees with Angelo and Donato Leo.

Inside, Maria Leo bakes a tasty orange cake with chia seeds.

The Leo family have lived on the farm for 26 years and have built guest accommodation, The Lodge, and an oil processing shed.

They hold social events where 20 or more people can dine at a long table.

On Sunday, April 17, they will host the Lions Biggest Barbecue to raise money for the Childhood Cancer Research Foundation.

Angelo promises it will be "something very special" and guests will not only be served delicious food, they can tour the olive farm and see how the oil is pressed and bottled.

Angelo's son Donato ran Da Leone Cafe in Casino for 20 years.

These days you're more likely to catch him checking the rows of olive trees and talking about the biological approach he takes to farming.

"I do soil tests and we plant the trees (nine metres apart) so they have lots of room and get lots of sun," he said.

The grass is left to grow long as cover for predators of the insects that feed on the trees.

When the olives are ripe, everyone is enlisted to pick them.

"The family, my wife and the kids help," Donato said.

Fellow Lions member Dick Beattie is a regular picker.

"We give Dick a small tree to pick from because he is small," Angelo said.

"Even the kangaroos start to become Italian and snack on the olives."

The Biggest Barbecue begins at 10am. Mongogorie Rd and the farm are signposted, about 27km from Casino.

Call  Dick Beattie on 6662 1009 with inquiries.


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