In this month’s edition of our Family Album series, we’re shining the spotlight on Grant Freeman a loyal and adventurous soul who has been with the Mount Zero team for close to a decade.
Grant started out working in production when Mount Zero Olives was a smaller team of four and today works as Operations Manager in a team of twelve.
He has known Rich and the Seymour family since his teens and recalls camping at Mount Zero before the school farm-house went in, as well as Mount Zero Olive's first commercial harvest.
Grant has worked across many, if not all, aspects of the business. He has served the public at farmer’s markets, made food deliveries, worked at Food and Wine festivals, as well as in product management.
And, it’s taking about improving production efficiencies, while maintaining and improving quality and sustainability that makes Grant’s face light right up. That and his stories of travel, his farm and new family.
Thanks Grant for taking the time to tell us a little about yourself today.
What is your full name and title?
Grant Freeman – Operations Manager
How long have you been working for Mount Zero?
About nine years now, to be honest I've kind of lost count…
What is your favourite thing about the work you do?
I love the process of starting out with an idea and watching it develop into a great product. Our chilli salt is a great example, the prototype developed into an amazingly delicious product by working out how to slowly infusing real chillies and salt together, which makes the most amazing paste which is then dried into a truly sensational salt.
What’s the most heard feedback from your customers?
Mostly how much they love Mount Zero’s business values, in that it’s an organic/bio-dynamic business and uses ethically sourced local produce. Also that our olive oil and olives are truly amazing – but that it almost goes without saying.
What has been your career highlight?
A highlight would be simply watching the business grow from the much smaller business it was when I started, to what it is today - being a part of that journey has been very satisfying.
What did you do for work prior to joining the Mount Zero team?
I spent many years traveling and living abroad, I did study and work in international business early on before realising it wasn't really for me. I also a spent a couple of years in pharmaceutical manufacturing before joining Mount Zero.
In your years travelling, what countries did you visit, or live in?
Oh, many many places. I cycled from from Argentina to Scotland (catching a plane from Columbia to Spain). I’ve lived for a more than a year in Paris and I also lived in Montreal.
So you speak French?
Yes, I’m fluent in Quebecois and Argentina Spanish, my wife ( who is from Warrnambool) also speaks Spanish so we try and keep it up at home.
Traveling on bike from Argentina to Scotland is not a trip you hear about every day, can you share some thoughts from the road?
It was a two-year trip – with a lot of variety! I would spend up to three weeks at a time not speaking to another soul and was pleased to find that I was easy in my own company. I was also pretty happy to lob into the odd youth-hostel and organise a party to break it up a bit. Oh I was also shot at in Peru. That was an experience. A group of guys in a car tried to knock me off my bike and then started shooting at me, and then at other cars that slowed down to help (or perhaps to watch!).
So if you weren’t working for Mount Zero, where would you be today?
I’d probably be in some far flung corner of the world hundreds of kilometres from human contact. Climbing mountains or crossing deserts, or maybe charging corporate clients for adventure travel like south pole crossings. I certainly have wanderlust which is tempered by the hard work required to live on an 80-acre farm, which keeps me occupied.
What is your favourite Mount Zero product and why?
I mentioned this product earlier. I really love our chilli salt. It's got a beautiful balance of flavour and heat and when it is freshly produced it has amazing colour and looks beautiful.
As you well know we are forever building and adding to our Foodie’s bucket list – please add your tips….
I’m a huge fan of Il Solito Posto. They have been a customer of ours for as long as I can remember and I've been a customer of theirs for just as long.
And, finally, what recipe have you picked to share this month and why?
Living on a small farm, I had great dreams of being almost completely self-sufficient, by growing our own veggies and raising our own meat. The problem I've found is that raising your own livestock makes it very difficult to kill. So we eat a lot of rabbit in our household instead, which I go out and shoot when I get the chance. Today the dish I’ve chosen to share is Rabbit Cacciatore.
Thanks Grant, it was a pleasure learning more about your life at Mount Zero, as well as your life outside of work and your many interesting adventures!