1828, and the cry that went out from Dahlonega, Georgia, “Thar’s Gold in Them Thar Hills” signaled the first major gold rush in the United States. With no Internet or other fast communications, no one realized that John Couper of St. Simons Island was at the same time experimenting with another type of liquid gold-olive oil.  In 1825, Couper received a shipment of 200 olive trees from Provence, France. Encouraged by Thomas Jefferson, Couper proved that olive trees could grow on the Georgia coast.

Cold weather, hurricanes, the Civil War, labor stifled the fledgling industry. Old trees succumbed to age and decay. Members of the Cassina Garden Club on St. Simons located what is believed to be the last olive tree on the island and took cuttings, which are prospering. They gained much knowledge about planting and care from pioneers in the field of olive pomology in Georgia, the Shaw brothers of Lakeland. In late 2011, Jason and Sam Shaw celebrated the first commercial harvest of olives in several centuries.

Georgia Olive Farms Heading

*photo credit: http://georgiaolivefarms.com

Their product Georgia Olive Farms Extra Virgin Olive Oil has lived up to Jefferson’s maxim that olives “contribute the most to the happiness of mankind.” The bottles flew off the shelf, receiving the support of food industry and chefs. And for farmers of southwest Georgia, the crop artisan olive oil became Georgia’s newest cash crop.

Georgia Olive Farms Olive Oil

*photo credit: http://georgiaolivefarms.com

Chris Dixon of Garden&Gun describes a tasting with Jason Shaw. It’s a down-home type tasting where Jason Shaw “pours the pale, greenish-gold oil from a dark bottle into a minuscule shot glass.” He advises, “Just slurp it a little. Get some air in it.”

All who have tasted have commented on its buttery, delicate taste.  Georgia Olive Farms,  predicts that by 2018, the state should see 2,000 acres planted. Interestingly, a fellow agriculturist of the 1800s, Thomas Spalding of Sapelo Island suggested that the costs to individual planters should be addressed by the establishment of a nursery funded and operated by the state legislature. Since oil has never been discovered in the state of Georgia, this liquid gold qualifies with much potential for the state and the south.

Full Olive Rows

*photo credit: http://georgiaolivefarms.com

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Tags: Cassina, Chris, Club, Dixon, Extra, Farms, Garden, Garden&Gun, Georgia, Jason, More…Oil, Olive, Sam, Shaw, Virgin, and


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Comment by Amber Wilson on May 10, 2013 at 2:05pm

Oh I want a bottle!! 

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