Georgia Olive Farms

It’s a little known fact that Georgia farms grew olives back in the 1800’s. But it’s becoming a much better known fact that this crop is making a comeback. Thanks to people like State Representative and farmer Jason Shaw, we learn why our state’s climate is so hospitable to the olive, creating a whole new industry. And while we’re visiting the southern side of the state, we take a ride on the Georgia Grown Trail to learn a little about agritourism.

Agritourism

Agritourism

We spend a little time spreading the word about this relatively new industry, and how the Georgia Grown Trail will play an important role.

Centrifuge

Centrifuge

To make olive oil, it helps to understand what a centrifuge is and how it works. And we’re here to help with that.

Propagation

Propagation

We offer a simple explanation of propagation—a key component of olive and other types of farming.

Plantation Trace

Special Thanks To

Jason Shaw, Kevin Shaw, Vicki Hughes, Scott Courson, Sam Shaw

GEORGIA OLIVE FARMS

VO

Today Fast Forward is visiting a genuine Georgia olive garden.

Okay but...I was actually thinking of this kind of olive garden. You'll see.

VO

Fast Forward is heading down to the southern end of the state, Lakeland to be exact.

Wonder how it got that name?

We're visiting Georgia Olive Farms - the largest producer of olives east of the Mississippi.

What? You never heard of olives being grown in Georgia? OK it's been a while. Actually since the 1800's. But...they're back. Meet olive farmer and state representative Jason Shaw.

JASON

Our family has been farming for several generations and just traditional road crops like cotton and peanuts and corn and soybeans and so forth. My cousin Kevin who runs that end of the farm, he's always tried to diversify and find out how we could grow something here on our family farm that we could actually market direct to the consumer.

VO

Makes sense, but why olives?

JASON

The main thing that determines where you can grow olive trees is how cold it gets in the winter. We happen to be in an area right here where we have pretty mild winters.

VO

So you picked olives and...branched out.

JASON

Can we get a writer to give me a funnier joke than that?

VO

OK, we're on it. For now let's meet the "olive experts."

VICKI

I'm the director of the Georgia Olive Growers Association.

KEVIN

I'm a partner in Georgia Olive Farms.

Scott

I'm Scott. I manage Georgia Olive Farms.

VO

So what's the specialty here, olives or olive oil?

JASON

Well, you have to have olives to make olive oil.

VO

OK, I served that one up didn't I? Help me out.

Scott

All of the olives we produce on our trees go into making our branded extra virgin olive oil.

VO

By the way, other than being one of the most oddly named products on the planet, what is extra virgin olive oil?

JASON

There's a lot of different olive oils. You have light, you have virgin, extra virgin. Extra virgin is the cream of the crop. It's the best you can buy,

VO

Good enough for my car?

KEVIN

I'd much rather pour it over a little salmon.

VO

You're the expert. So what goes into making extra virgin olive oil?

JASON

One of the key components to making a good quality, high quality olive oil is that as soon as you harvest the olives from the tree then you need to go straight into the olive mill and produce it into oil.

VO

Believe it or not this process dates back centuries. It's a little more scientific and high tech these days. But basically the olives are ground into a paste and the oil is separated in something called a centrifuge.

A centrifuge is a machine that separates substances of different densities by rotating at a very high speed, displacing the substances through a series of filters or gratings. Centripetal acceleration causes the olive oil, which is lighter, to separate from the denser olive paste and water. After separation, the oil is captured and set aside.

So what else do we need to know about olives?

JASON

All the trees that we plant are propagated

VO

Prop-a-whated?

KEVIN

Propagation is taking a cutting or a piece of an existing tree and dipping it into a rooting hormone and then sticking it into some soil and allowing it to produce its own roots so it can become its own tree.

VO

And with about 40,000 trees on this farm alone, growing olives is going to do a lot more than just fill a few bottles with oil.

VICKI

It's going to create a new industry in Georgia.

VO

See! What'd I tell you?

VICKI

In production, in marketing, in tourism. It's going to create awareness for the state as well.

VO

And that means new jobs, such as...

JASON

You're talking about new jobs on the processing end. These are highly skilled jobs where we will actually have to get people certified to operate this type of highly technical advanced equipment. Then you're talking about having to producing all this and bottling, labeling, marketing, retail, transportation so it's an entirely new industry with all types of facets attached to it.

VO

And that's not the only industry coming out of this part of the state. The Georgia Grown Trail - Hwy 37 - is giving farmers a new place to set up shop.

VICKI

Highway 37 will create a map where people can drive along the route and stop in at all the farms and all of the stores and get a little taste of Georgia.

VO

Now that's what I call home cooking. Down here they call it Agritourism.

VICKI

Agritourism is an amazing industry that's coming into it's own in the state of Georgia. We have farmers all over the state. They're selling their products in stores that are right there on the farm.

VO

Agritourism. Olive farming in Georgia. Who said farmers don't have to be creative or innovative?

JASON

It doesn't matter if you're in agriculture or any other kind of industry right now. You really have to be more creative than we've ever been before. For us, that meant trying to find a way we could produce something like olive oil here on our farm and be able to sell that product straight to the consumer. So, you have to be able to find something, find a niche somewhere like what we're trying to do here.

VO

Helping you find your niche - those unique career opportunities - that's what we're all about! And we'll be back at it again - looking for more of the best jobs in Georgia - on the next episode of Fast Forward.

This content was developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. However, this content does not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.