Story & photo Kate O’Neill
If you’ve been shopping at the local farmers’ markets for a while, you’ll remember Denyse Hodgson, aka, Grumpy Grandma; the no-nonsense lady with the best olives in town. She and husband Alan retired a few years ago, but to the relief of their many loyal customers, their stall and products remained at New Brighton and Mullumbimby Farmers Markets.
Rosebank couple Tim Stone and Lynne Ziehlke are the new Grumps, and have stayed true to the formula that has made Grumpy Grandma so successful. They use the same methods and processes as Denyse to make the delicious olives, olive oil and olive products Grumpy Grandma’s is known for.
Tim, a former TV producer, says he and Lynne were thrilled when the chance to buy the business arose. ‘We’d been coming to the markets for ten years and knew exactly what the product was, so we saw it as a great opportunity.’
Tim also saw it as a way to spend more time on the property he and Lynne moved to a decade ago. For the first five years he had continued to commute to Sydney for work. ‘Getting on the plane each week became more difficult as time went on. It was such a shame to have to leave every Sunday.’
Their Rosebank farm is now Grumpy Grandma’s headquarters, home to Tim and Lynne’s olive grove, and the place where the magic olive curing process happens.
Unlike mass-produced commercial olives, which are often processed using lye, or caustic soda, Grumpy Grandma’s are cured using just salt, water, vinegar and fermentation. It’s a slower process, but one which results in a much better flavour. The farm is also where Tim and Lynne make other goodies, like wood-smoked olives, and their incredibly moreish semi-dried olives.
Tim says he loves farm life, and being at the farmer’s markets every week.
‘What better place to work – you’ve got music, sunshine, everyone’s outdoors – being part of the community is absolutely fantastic.’