Bravery in Recovery

Posted by Lilly Choi-Lee on

First the bushfires.  Then the pandemic.  And just as we thought the light was glimmering at the end of the COVID tunnel, Mother Nature decided otherwise and sent us a couple of "rain bombs" to isolate communities, inundate low lying flat plains like Lismore and render thousands of people homeless.

Throughout the event, there were countless callouts for help, cries for basics like food, clean drinking water and shelter.  The Northern Rivers community was galvanised into action, self-organised by enterprising and resourceful individuals and groups;  we all played some part - from giving hugs and cups of tea to donning boots to help clean out the foul-smelling mud-covered home. It was neighbourly love at a regional level.  And it was both heart-breaking and soul-warming. 

We will get through this.  We will recover.

And amongst our tribe of partner artisans, those most affected were our Pyewackets Traditional team Genna & Katrina who lost their little shop based in Lismore, our Barefoot Farmers Matt and Ash watched helplessly as their pecan orchard in Eltham went underwater and our young farmers at Olive Gap Farm in Woodburn somehow remained unbelievably optimistic amidst the chaos of rising waters. 

They managed to rescue barrels of certified organic tea tree oil floating away (thank god they were airtight) and were fortunate to some extent with the brand new packaging that had just arrived in a shipping container.  "With a chain gang in chest height water, we managed to save half of it before it went too high to manage."

However, the proverbial phoenix has risen out of the waters, with collaboration at the forefront.  As the Barefoot Farm floodwaters receded they offered the Pyewackets Traditional team space in their kitchens to continue to operate.

Olive Gap Farm put out a call to support with pre-orders of their divine tea tree oil in the brand new bottle & packaging - along with new product launch in the form of certified organic tea tree hydrosol! (Hydrosol is produced as a by-product during the distillation process for the essential tea tree oil.  We call it the "floral water" - perfect as a therapeutic face toner and full body deodorizing spritzer and antiseptic spray.)

On the surface, the sodden earth is now dry.  But the scars of the flood are etched in the eyes of those affected and their mental anguish remains hidden and for many, unrecognised.  There is still much to do...

Recovery requires bravery.  Taking one step and one day at a time.  

Thank you to our tribe who have supported our artisans and our region in whatever capacity you could!

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Connection to Country via Tea Tree

Posted by Lilly Choi-Lee on

A beautiful post penned by TARA LUCA, one of our passionate artisans from Olive Gap Farm

We were fortunate to share a coffee & stories during NAIDOC week with one of our local Bundjalung elders, Aunty Simone.

It's amazing to talk to Simone and learn more about the rich history of this area. Tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia) is only native to Bundjalung country in Australia which our local mob is part of and it's been part of their culture for tens of thousands of years. Much has been lost, but there is still a lot we can learn. 🍂

She shared stories about the local Tea Tree Lakes being "Women's only" places and were used for childbirth and rituals due to the healing qualities of the Tea tree. 🌿

Her father had also been a Tea tree farmer for a while and she has memories of him hand harvesting and woodfire bush distilling the oil, in pretty much the same way we produce our oil today.

We have been chatting with her for a while now about getting the farm involved in some local initiatives for aboriginal youth. Both Alex & Nina have worked with local Bundjalung kids for many years and we have some cool ideas brewing! Looking forward to sharing things soon.

We feel so privileged to be having these conversations with some of the local traditional custodians. I'm currently writing an e-book about Tea tree and really want to be able to honour the history of its traditional origins in a respectful way while being aware that essential oils in there current form are a modern invention since settlement which has taken on a history and story of its own.

Aunty Simone will also be working on some artwork with us, so we can honour the local mob in some way on our new packaging! Stay tuned.

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Our own Macadamia Farmer & His Wife Story!

Posted by Lilly Choi-Lee on

Meet Andrew Leslie, a man connected to the land as a second generation macadamia nut farmer.  His passion & love for this region of the Northern Rivers brought him back here after a corporate career as an accountant.  Andrew comes across as being quite serious but he has revealed a definite cheeky larrikin side to him - and he knows a lot about macadamia nuts!  

So what better place to start than to listen to him tell us about the humble little macadamia nut & its journey from farm to face... 

Ann is the beauty & the brains behind the Avilla Farm Skincare story & we look forward to sharing more insights to her, her career and lifestyle change to follow Andrew back to his roots in the Northern Rivers...


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No Ordinary Day on an Organic Tea Tree Farm

Posted by Lilly Choi-Lee on

Harvest Time

There is a small window of opportunity to harvest the native “melaleuca alternafolia” tea tree plants – at the end of each Australian winter in the month of August.

So, as the northern hemisphere begins to cool down, here down under in Australia, we are beginning to warm up! 

No Ordinary Day 

It is a true family affair & at the end of final harvest, there is no better way to relax than gather by a campfire, create music & share stories of the day.The video below shows our Olive Gap Organic Farm family hard at work harvesting the tea tree, using an old Massey Ferguson 65 tractor & a forage harvester - slower than other commercial farms, but much gentler on the earth. 

Join us on our future posts to watch as we extract the most beautiful, botanical tea tree oil using traditional wood-fired distillation methods & share with you some natural benefits & ways to use our certified organic farm tea tree oil.



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The Australia’s Manuka Honey Story

Posted by Lilly Choi-Lee on

Our sweetest story yet…

Our happy bees in the pristine forests of Northern Rivers NSW Australia are the true heroes in this very sweet story. 

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