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Our Origin Story

This is the story of how Goterra began. It started with a dream by our Founder Olympia and, since the beginning, many others have joined her. We are extraordinarily grateful to everyone who has been part of the journey so far. Thank you. You know who you are. 

Humble beginnings: a passion for farming

Our Founder Olympia was always determined to farm. It’s been a lifelong dream since her days at school and as a young teenage mum. When her son died young, she left Canberra to live in Darwin. She had no family support and it seemed like the dream was lost. A one-way ticket to the USA and a job training horses brought her one step closer to the dream. But it was a long 14 year wait before she got the chance. She came back to Australia with the dream to farm on the the land. Farms are expensive to buy and she faced more blockers. Tired of waiting, she started exploring farming insects; looking for the most creative way to create protein and make her farm financially sustainable.

The fork in the road: a shift in focus from farming to managing waste

Goterra’s a-ha moment was discovering that insect farming is farming in its own right. It doesn’t look like traditional farming, the livestock don’t look like farm animals, and the output doesn’t look like a traditional protein product but it is farming nonetheless. And if the livestock are fed waste that’s not currently in the supply chain, insects can be farmed in a way that is both financially and environmentally sustainable. 

 

And the breakthrough epiphany is that this model is more than a farming enterprise, it’s a waste management enterprise. Insects have the potential to both manage food waste and produce protein, providing a dual service that adds value to the community. So whilst our roots are deeply planted in farming, we are equally a waste management company.

Going against the grain

Establishing a new way to do things is inherently challenging, because it challenges the status quo. Many people have told us that our approach will not work. That criticism has only reinforced our belief in the need to do things differently. Your biggest detractors can be your biggest teachers, and the critics have brought a valuable lesson that lives strong in Goterra today. Look for different perspectives. The answers will be found in unusual places.

 

We believe that the future of agriculture is a system with optimised and circular reapplication of products. That means getting the most value from every step of the process. We are imagining a circular system in which insects are much more than just a livestock feed. They are a circular solution that enables nutrients to be up-cycled in the agricultural value chain.

Solving the transport problem

A large proportion of the financial and environmental cost of producing protein is due to transport. How do we resolve that? By decentralising the method of production. We can’t save the world by repeating large scale, single location farming, and simply replacing traditional livestock with maggots.

 

Overcoming transport logistics was the driver for the development of Goterra’s fully automated modular units (MIBs). We already knew that automation would allow us to produce at scale. The true innovation was to design services to be deployed – and serviced – on site – thereby eliminating the transport problem.

Why hire people with disabilities?

We believe that everyone deserves a fair go in life. As a Founder, Olympia set out to create a workplace where people get a fair go and are free to be themselves. We are building a rounded, diverse team and creating a culture that gives people permission to be themselves at work. We believe you get challenged when you don’t surround yourself with people who think like you. That if you are constantly questioning accepted norms, you are better at what you do. 

 

It also speaks to values of respect. Giving people a place where they are welcomed and can contribute means they will step up. And people who feel part of something go above and beyond. The fact that some of our employees have had a disability – and it’s not a sympathy vote – demonstrates that you can be yourself at Goterra. And it plays to the principle to look for answers in unusual places.  Which we like. A lot.

Envisioning the future

In 2020 we commissioned our first commercial MIB in the iconic Barangaroo towers on Darling Harbour. Why Barangaroo? It is designed to be a precinct of the future. There is nowhere we would rather be.   

 

We have understood that the farming systems of the future will not look like the farming systems of today. And we know that what we are best at is envisioning and innovating the new and emerging systems. Agriculture is on the cusp of tremendous change, as profound as the agricultural revolution. Guided by our passion for farming and vision for a sustainable future, Goterra is at the forefront of that revolution.

 

We are revolutionising waste management to suit a changing and uncertain world where sustainability is a key focus and scaling waste disposal has become crucial. We know our solution works. We believe if it can work here, and in remote regions of Australia, it can be an enduring solution for waste management ecosystems across the world.