Aussie bush aromas
Greg Trevena is the essential oil equivalent to the Bush Tucker Man. He chats with us about his company Essentially Australia and the healing powers of our soil.
What inspired you to establish your business?
I had a bush-tucker jam business in 1988 called Rainforest Foods, which was largely motivated by the ABC TV series Bush Tucker Man. I was inspired by the series’ identification and exposure of potentially useful Australian plants. I was also inspired by Landcare groups and their drive to replant Australian flora. I wondered how many other essential oils were still lying around on the Australian continent yet to be discovered and shared, and so began with Lemon Myrtle developing and distributing the oil for aromatherapy and personal care products. I grew my Lemon Myrtle business for over 10 years before selling it, and then in 2012 I started Essentially Australia.
What was your original vision for Essentially Australia and how has that evolved over the years?
In the beginning, I wanted to make the complete Australian essential oil range available to the people, but now I come from a more organic place. My vision is more about growing, finding and adding unique new Australian oils to the market.
Tell us a bit about your rainforest plantation in Byron Bay.
I’ve always had an interest in bush tucker and grew some local rainforest trees, like Davidson’s plum, lilly pilly and lemon myrtle for jam making. It was in Byron that I discovered lemon myrtle’s essential oil potential and so began expanding our plantation to include fresh, aromatic and certified organic species and plants.
What types of plants and food plants do you grow?
I grow rose myrtle, lemon myrtle and a few other secret ones, yet to be revealed or released for sale. I also grow a rare local tamarind, a rare lilly pilly, Davidson’s plum, riberry and Illawarra plum.
What are your thoughts and practices on ethical land use, revegetation and sustainable farming?
I agree with the principles of Landcare: to plant local tees in their local environment. That way, the plants are already accustomed to rainfall patterns, seasonal temperatures, soil types and insects. This should ensure the plant grows and produces comfortably without the need for heavy irrigation, heavy fertiliser and spraying for insects. My plantation is growing on a certified organic farm, so chemicals really aren’t anywhere near my crops. I truly believe that the preservation of wild, native ecosystems is extremely valuable as I have been able to find some potentially useful plants in these remnants.
What exactly is an essential oil and how is it made?
Essential oil is the liquid essence of a plant. It contains the characteristic odour of the plant, which plays an important role in the plant’s survival. For example, if you chew the leaves of lemon myrtle you’ll feel a burning sensation on your tongue. This helps to prevent an insect attack as insects eating the leaves feel this same sensation.
Essential oil is usually steam-distilled from the leaves of plants, such as eucalypts, tea-tree and lemon myrtle, however some oils are extracted by steam distillation of the timber, such as with sandalwoods and cypresses. Other essential oils are extracted by solvent extraction, such as boronia, or CO2 extraction, as in the case of emerald cypress.
What is the best essential oil for stress and supporting your immune system?
I would suggest the oil Fragonia as it has elements of eucalyptus and is great for the respiratory system. It also has perfume and woody notes, which help to calm the nervous system, and has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It has elements of tea-tree, making it anti-bacterial, and is excellent for people suffering from stress, which in turn can affect the immune system.
What lies ahead for Essentially Australia?
Growing some new and unique Australian plants, which I have found in the wilds near Byron Bay, and releasing them to the market in a successful way.
For more details, visit essentiallyaustralia.com.au
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