Words by Della Vreeland Images Supplied
Yarrawonga’s Vodusek family wants to create a special sort of culinary experience for its customers – one that is instilled with passion, sustainability and gratitude.
“We are passionate about the land, what we grow, harvest and create,” Ros Vodusek says.
We want to share and educate people about where their food comes from and be grateful to our fellow farmers.
With 35 years of experience as a chef, Ros is the frontwoman of Rich Glen – a farm that specialises in the production of olive-based products.
Managing the farm alongside her husband Daimien, and with help from her four children, she says the family brings a combined five generations of agricultural knowledge to the fore.
Rich Glen’s first olive trees were planted in 1998, with the first harvest taking place in 2003.
At first, the farm started selling bulk oil, but later took on a more viable business model which involved the manufacturing and selling of olive-oil products.
Ros and Daimien took over the Estate from Daimien’s parents in 2000 at which point they began selling olive oil from the back room of their Edwardian home.
Throughout the whole journey, the ethos of sustainability has underpinned the farm’s operations – from the implementation of water-efficient methods to the sourcing of sustainable raw materials and, more importantly, supporting other companies that share similar values.
“We are always looking at planting new crops to improve yield and improve the overall health of the soil,” Ros says.
“We are incredibly passionate about operating all aspects sustainably, from the agricultural side of the business to the manufacturing and distribution of our skin-care range.
“This allows the next generation coming up through the business to learn the importance of making smart, long-term decisions and forming a sustainable and environmentally friendly business model.”
The Rich Glen product range includes 150 olive-oil based food and skin-care products produced on the estate, as well as a variety of pantry staples such as meat rubs, dukkah, dressings, cordials and honey.
“Our Olive Oil is grown, harvested and pressed on our farm, so we believe we have the freshest and healthiest Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) possible,” Ros says.
“We love how versatile EVOO is, and we showcase that throughout our Nourish, Nurture and Radiance product range. It is simply the essential ingredient.
“We manufacture our entire range without the use of unnecessary artificial ingredients, additives or preservatives. Every ingredient on our nutritional panel is a single ingredient item that anyone could recognise.”
As well as producing their own olives, Rich Glen also manufactures its products on-site using ingredients, packaging and labels from Australian-made companies.
While Coronavirus presented a number of challenges for the Voduseks, namely the closing of their farmgate store and the loss of employees, Ros says it was also an opportunity for the business to reinvent itself and think more creatively about how to showcase Rich Glen’s premium offerings.
“Our journey here on the farm has been such a thrill. Every day is unique, challenging and simply creative,” Ros says.
“I love having the ability to wake up each day and do what I love, sharing this exciting journey with my husband and four kids.
“One of the most rewarding aspects of creating Rich Glen has been the ongoing positive feedback we receive each day. From a new customer discovering a new product and loving it, to a parent finally sourcing a natural skin-care product to use on their child’s eczema.
“We are always overwhelmed with the amount of people’s lives that we have the opportunity to influence each day positively.”