It was the year 2011 that changed agriculture history in Georgia placing Olive Oil from the Deep South on the geographical map for a successful production. In the late 1800′s, Olive Oil was produced in the south. Unknown circumstances halted cultivation and production. Speculation is that a hurricane wiped out the olive trees.
I’m excited that the Shaw’s of Lakeland, Georgia took the huge risk in cultivating the first variety of arbequina olives and pressing same into a bottle.
I’m also excited that I own one of the first bottles distributed.
Olive oil will be available to consumers locally. Being that Georgia Olive Farms is the leading olive oil producer east of the Mississippi, this will have a profound effect on importing olive oil.
In an article in the South Georgia Business Magazine it is said that 99% of olive oil is imported, despite that California is a producer of same. The freight cost for transportation is cost prohibitive to ship to the East Coast where olive oil is consumed more than anywhere else in the nation. Huh! What about that?
When Georgia Olive Oil began distributing to specific areas in Georgia, I had tried to buy a bottle from the one single location made available in Atlanta but Star Provisions had sold out almost immediately. Luck would come my way when I attended a cooking class at Cook’s Warehouse, the second location to carry the green liquid. By coincidence, a bottle was resting on the kitchen counter where renowned southern chef, Virginia Willis was preparing food. I inquired if bottles were being sold and a shipment had just arrived that day.
During the class, Virginia tried a spoonful and commented on the wonderful flavor and beautiful green hue. She too grabbed a bottle for her personal use. Virginia proceeded to use it in a dressing especially prepared for Lentil salad she was making this night.
Anxious to try it myself, I blended with a balsamic glaze to baste steak. After that I made a dressing for green salad.
…but, before I would use it over steak or salad, I wanted to try it fresh out of the bottle dipping baguette slices in it. The flavor was very pleasing to the palate with a buttery taste. Add a pinch of Oregano for a little added flavor.
Because the Shaw’s are passionate in the production of olive oil, they formed a cooperative and now have 30 members with over 200 acres. They have planted 50,000 trees with more to come.
Georgia Olive Farms now sells olive trees that can be grown as far north as Atlanta. With care from a hard freeze, Atlantans’ could grow their very own tree in their back yard and harvest olives for salad or stuff as hors d’oeuvres just in time for dinner guests. Who knows, one could press olives into their very own personal oil.
The Georgia Olive Farm Growers Association offers support and seminars throughout the year to help those who want to be a part of Olive Growers of Georgia Association.
Thanks, to Jason, Sam and Kevin Shaw, along with the members of the cooperative. This is certainly an agricultural accomplishment Georgia can be proud of.