By Olympia Yarger, Fyshwick ACT
2018 NSW-ACT AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award Finalist
As featured in the 2018 Country Web Annual.
Passionate about rural and regional communities, Olympia Yarger is a farmer, innovator and leader in insect farming in Australia.
As the founder and CEO of Goterra, an insect farm based in Canberra, Olympia is committed to changing the landscape of livestock feed and redefining how we look at sustainable waste management solutions.
Olympia’s roots are firmly in farming—a love she developed from spending time on the family farm in Canberra, first settled by her Italian great grandparents. This passion translated to her career—working across many different agricultural industries. This included spending 14 years in America after marrying her U.S Marine husband, working with and supporting military families.
Olympia returned to Australia in 2014 with plans to start farming. Realising that the landscape had changed significantly, and the opportunity for purchasing and effectively running a small-to-medium sustainable enterprise was not available, Olympia began researching alternate farming options, which eventually led her to insect farming.
It was during this time that she realised a need to unlock access to and leverage the current food and agricultural waste in rural and regional Australia. She set about addressing this gap by designing a modular mobile system to process food waste onsite.
By 2016 Olympia had to move her business operation out of her garage and into a warehouse facility in Fyshwick to keep up with demand.
‘We grow our insects using food and agricultural waste from our regions—doing our part to keep food waste from going into Australian landfill and reducing odour and waste for agricultural enterprises in urban locations.’
Olympia’s business processed 20 tonnes of food and agriculture waste in 2017 and this year (2018) that figure will increase to more than 200 tonnes—turning those wastes into an alternative livestock feed compound for primary producers and human food products, like protein bars, crackers and cakes.
The business has been testing and developing its insect feed to ensure quality assurance across its insect for feed products. In 2018 Goterra insect meal will be commercially available as the company continues to scale to commercial capacity.
They also produce and supply nutritious insect meal and whole crickets for human consumption to restaurants and foodies across Australia. Notably, Goterra provided whole crickets and mealworms for Adelaide’s Open State event, which hosted an ‘insects as food and feed’ showcase. Delivering nutritious crickets, raised on grape marc from a local Murrumbateman winery, to attendees at the Adelaide event, showcased the importance of insect farming and how it is creating feed security for farmers, regional industry and communities.
With the breadth and range of the insect protein industry only just starting to emerge Olympia is committed to developing the processes and industry standards necessary to bring sustainable insect protein feeds to the Australian market.
She is working to educate people on opportunities to establish regionally based insect farms by developing an online education series and creating a digital handbook of best practice to grow the industry, to be delivered through the Insect Protein Association and other online farming platforms.
Olympia believes rural industries, businesses and communities can leverage insect farming to become more agile and innovative in the development of products for food and feed, creating sustainability into the future.
As a new and emerging industry, Olympia says insect farming can provide multiple, dynamic opportunities for primary producers as either a new enterprise or a vehicle to valorise or manage their waste streams.