by Guerry Norwood

Georgia Olive Farms, an agricultural cooperative formed in 2009, in Lakeland, Georgia is the leading East Coast producer and marketer of olive trees and Georgia Olive Farms Extra Virgin Olive Oil. In 2011, Georgia Olive Farms conducted the first commercial harvest of olives east of the Mississippi River since the late 1800s. The olives harvested were pressed into extra virgin olive oil, which is marketed under the Georgia Olive Farms label. Right now there is a very limited supply of the 2011 harvest of the Chef’s Blend of Georgia Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Georgia Olive Farms is working with farmers and investors to provide sustainable, locally produced olive oil to east coast consumers.

The efforts of Georgia Olive Farms should result in a significantly reduced carbon footprint for olive oil consumed on the east coast. Each year, Georgia Olive Farms will be the first to harvest olives in the United States and can provide the very freshest olive oil to U.S. consumers, especially on the east coast.

While most may assume that growing olives in South Georgia is a radically new concept, south Georgia olives are, in reality, a tradition older than our nation. In archeological excavations of 16th century Franciscan settlements from Florida up through Georgia, olive pits have been found. Also, in the early 18th century, British settlers arriving to St. Simons Island, Georgia found olive trees growing alongside oranges near the lighthouse. These olives were most likely brought to the new world by Spanish explorers as far back as 1526. It is known that Spanish explorers sailed with olives aboard, and they are attributed with introducing the sour orange to the east coast of America.


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