Olympia Yarge went to boarding school in a small rural town in New South Wales, Australia. Originally from Canberra, she got to spend time on some beautiful farms in New South Wales. When she left high school Olympia moved to the Snowy Mountains and did her Wool classing certificate, then the Southern Tablelands to do a Rural Traineeship. She turned her hand to just about everything, including working the export cattle yards in Darwin and working for Cutting Horse trainers in Texas.
Then family and children came and she married a US Marine, who was actively deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. The two struck a deal when he got out of the Marine Corps that they would come home to Australia and they would buy a farm. As Olympia was writing her business plan for her farm she realised the cost of feed, for a small to medium producer made a financially viable operation, challenging - to say the least. She did a lot of research looking for sustainable or organic feed. In the end she did a Google search of the nutrient analysis of chicken feed and the Black Soldier Fly page on a website for Feedipedia came up. As a lover of sheep she wasn't entirely enthused about becoming a fly farmer. However, the potential of insect farming was too much to ignore. She started growing Black Soldier Flies in her garage. "I've spent the first part of my career killing flies and maggots, on sheep, to find myself in a garage in Canberra willing maggots to live, was an interesting experience to say the least."
According to Olympia, Black Soldier Flies are particular. "Growing them commercially requires similar environmental controls and considerations as any other type of indoor growing. But getting it just right, is a balance that there isn't a lot of public information about." Production wise, the couple have had to learn quickly, not just about how to grow maggots, but managing food waste and developing production systems for an 'animal' that has been domesticated for only a few years. Right now they are focused on the opportunities of insect farming, not only as a nutritious livestock feed but also as a food waste management solution. "It's a young industry but insect farming is one of the most dynamic agricultural industries emerging in the world today. I'm excited to be part of it, and never tire meeting the people and organisations that are involved in developing production and farming practices for the worlds most recent domesticated 'animal'."
What a niche you have found yourself, Olympia. It must be extremely exciting knowing you are working in such a new and upcoming sector of agriculture. Your inquisitive and hardworking qualities have got you this far and we are sure will continue to drive you to great places in the future. We'll be sure to keep an eye on the movements of your work!