By GILLIAN M. GOODWIN
When one thinks of olive oil, the mind conjures up olive trees in Greece, Italy or Spain. One man dared to dream about bringing olive oil to the state of Georgia. On a study abroad trip to Verona, Italy, in 1996, Jason Shaw tasted for the first time authentic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Shaw, a Georgia state representative of District 176 and a partner in Georgia Olive Farms, set out to bring olive oil farming to Georgia.
“Coming from a farming background and looking at the success of olive oil farming in California, I wanted to replicate those same results in Georgia,” said Shaw.
Shaw conducted extensive research as to what kind of tree to plant, harvesting and planting method to utilize to plant olives in Georgia. He consulted with the big names in the olive industry like Paul Miller, the president of the Australian Olive Association, as well as John Post, a pomologist, international consultant and olive grower from California.
While consulting with them, Shaw was able to determine that Georgia’s weather is very similar to weather in the Mediterranean where olive farming thrives. Olives are also resistant to climate change so there is little worry of crop devastation if the weather suddenly changes.
Shaw’s research determined that 14 varietals of olives could potentially grow in Georgia. Out of those 14, Shaw decided to grow only three on his farm in Lakeland, Ga. The Spanish Arbequina and Arbosana, as well as the Greek Koroneiki, are grown at Georgia Olive Farms. The Arbequina has a delicate flavor, while the Arbosana can be described as robust and more peppery. The Koroneiki is also another robust oil that has a hint of banana and pear and has a peppery finish.
The executive director of Georgia Olive Growers Association, Vicki Hughes, said, “Jason Shaw, Kevin Shaw, [and] Berrien Sutton partnered as a producer group in 2009 to provide a market for olives grown in the Southeast and for conversion of olives produced in Georgia and the region into premium olive oil.”
Currently Georgia Olive Farms only manufacture two types of oil. A bottle of Arbequina extra virgin olive oil, and a bottle of their Chef’s Blend which consists of all three varietals of Arbequina, Arbosana and Koroneiki oils.
Nancy Ash, an olive oil tester and educator, gave a positive review about Georgia Olive Farms Olive Oil in Atlanta Magazine. She said the oil was “sweet, smooth, and soft.”
In addition to producing and manufacturing their own oil, Georgia Olive Farms also sells olive trees to the public for $10 per tree that can be purchased at http://georgiaolivefarms.com. If you’d like to purchase to Georgia Olive Farms olive oil, it too can be purchased on the website, at Whole Foods Market and at various artisan shops for $25 a bottle.
[fbshare type=”button” float=”left”][google_plusone size=”medium” annotation=”bubble” language=”English (US)” float=”left”][twitter style=”horizontal” float=”left”] [linkedin_share style=”right” float=”left”]