In 2008 my husband and I purchased a small 4 acre property in Templeton, Ca. and four years later decided to plant 420 Arbequina olive trees knowing nothing about growing them or making olive oil; “sometimes ignorance is bliss.” After our first harvest, and tasting the EVOO, our daughter Lindsay, a fashion stylist in New York believed that this product we initially produced for just family and friends was too delicious to keep to ourselves. This is when the idea of a brand and selling direct to consumer came into play.
Going back, I have always been drawn to California native plants as well as low water use plants. I studied History at UCSB and Landscape Architecture at UCLA Extension and worked in a landscape architecture firm for 6 years. My favorite part of working in that firm was plant selection and installation. When we bought the 4 acres with that big 2-acre field I was bent on planting an orchard. I was drawn to the olive tree because of its long life and low water use compared to other crops. Plus it seemed “friendly” to me as a new untested farmer. I thought ‘here is a tree that has its place in history.’ Hopefully, I couldn’t kill it. I was looking for an ironclad partner and the olive tree was it.
There is also the sentimental part of this endeavor and that is Oliver is my mother’s maiden name. We have at the farm an old Oliver tractor (it’s color is green, my favorite) and plenty of our family members have stopped by for their picture in front of it.
Our first harvest was in 2014. We were so excited. We purchased 2 big containers to hold all the oil. My husband’s brother came for the harvest, and I was so proud driving through the rolling hills of our county and pulling up to the mill with our one harvest bin. I was even more excited the next day to pick up our oil. What a surprise to learn that we had just yielded 10 gallons. What a reality check! The next year we got 75 gallons and the third year 150. This last year was a disappointment and we chose to harvest but not to mill. We gave the harvested olives a proper burial in two deep plots and composted over them. This year’s harvest should be a great one for all of California Olive Oil Council growers. Right now our trees are full of budding flowers ready to produce fruit. The future is green and we couldn’t be more proud.