Olives return after two centuries - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Olives return after two centuries

They're not your typical south Georgia crop, but olives were harvested in Lanier County Tuesday.

The growers say it's the first commercial olive harvest on the East Coast since the 1800s. Tons of olives are now being shipped to Texas to be milled and processed for olive oil.

It's a historic olive harvest in Lanier County and the rain didn't slow them down. "Once you start you can't stop because it's all about keeping the fruit fresh as possible before it gets to the processor,"  said Jason Shaw.

Tons of olives are being shipped to Texas to pressed for olive oil. Then the oil will be shipped back to Georgia be bottled and labeled.

"It's a good start," said Shaw. "This is what we've been looking forward to for the last three years was this day and so it's exciting but it'll be more exciting when we get it bottled."

Twenty four acres were harvested in the last two days, producing half a ton each. "It's very bitter," said Shaw. "It's pretty bitter. You have to go through a process even for table olives."

Shaw wants to spread the word of olives and some folks have already caught on. "We'll plant ten acres in the spring," said Easton Kinnebrew.

Easton Kinnebrew of Americus isn't a farmer but a contractor.

"I'm ready to have them now seeing them this big after last year it's pretty amazing," said Kinnebrew.

"We hope to have our own mill in the next two years so we can process them here in Georgia," said Shaw.

It won't be too long before you'll have Georgia olive oil in your kitchen.

Jason Shaw of Georgia Olive Farms is also a state legislator. He says 99.3% of olive oil consumed in the United States is imported and he says most of it is mislabeled.


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