BLOG

Add this Special Ingredient to Your Georgia Shopping List

  • Georgia Olive Farms

Olive oil has become a favorite among professional and home cooks. Today, 99 percent of America’s olive oil is imported, but Georgia olive growers are diligently working to change that. For chefs and home cooks who prefer to use local ingredients, olive oil made in Georgia is a welcome addition to their kitchens.

Georgia got its beginning in the olive oil business out of necessity. At the same time when many of Georgia’s blueberry farmers were looking for ways to supplement their income, Georgia State Legislator Mary Squires was looking for ways to improve the Peach State’s agricultural base. Both looked to olives and began researching the viability of growing them in Georgia.

Mary deserves a lot of the credit for Georgia’s growing olive oil business. She first realized that Georgia’s climate was similar to a Mediterranean environment, where olive groves grow in abundance, on a visit to the country’s first public experimental farm in Savannah. There, she discovered that olives were once grown in Georgia and believing that there were 14 varietals that could potentially grow in Georgia, she added them to her list of possible cash crops.

While Mary Squires was researching the possibility of growing olives in Georgia, other Georgia farmers were doing some research of their own. In early 2009, five farmers in Southeast Georgia banded together to grow olive trees and try their hand at producing olive oil. By 2011, their diligence and hard work paid off when Georgia Olive Farms harvested the first commercial crop of olives grown east of the Mississippi from their orchards near Lakeland, Georgia.

Today, Georgia olive oil has won awards for color, aroma and taste. It can be found throughout the state for retail sale and is used in many restaurants.

Here are two olive farms that are currently producing Georgia olive oil and a list of retailers that carry Georgia olive oil.

Olive Farms in Georgia

Georgia Olive Farms, Lakeland

Georgia Olive Farms in Lakeland, Georgia
Georgia Olive Farms in Lakeland, Georgia

Their claim to fame is being the first olive farm to harvest commercial crops of olives in Georgia. Since that first experimental crop of olive trees, they have increased their olive orchards and continue the development of the olive oil industry in the Southeast.

Georgia Olive Farms sells two varieties of their extra virgin olive oil: Arbequina and Chef’s Blend. Both oils are first cold-pressed extra virgin olives oils with a smooth taste and a faint peppery finish.

Terra Dolce Farms, Lyons

Terra Dolce Farms olive oil from Lyons, Georgia
Terra Dolce Farms olive oil from Lyons, Georgia

Terra Dolce (sweet earth) Farms gives the fertile soil and mild climate of southeast Georgia credit for its exceptional olives and olive oil. Terra Dolce Farms’ Arbequina olives are hand-picked and produce oil with a mild, fresh flavor with aromas of ripe fruit and green grass.

Georgia Olive Oil Retailers

The Cook’s Warehouse, Atlanta

All three The Cook's Warehouse locations offer a large selection of gourmet foods, cookware, professional cutlery and hands-on cooking classes.

Strippaggio, Atlanta

The upmarket, rustic retailer Strippaggio offers premium quality single varietal and blended extra virgin olive oils, vinegars, salts, gourmet groceries and cooking classes.

Olive Affairs,  Brunswick

A purveyor of imported Italian pastas, sweet olive jam, olive tapenades, and Olivella skin care products, Olive Affairs also carries Georgia olive oils. 

The Salt Table, Savannah

In July 2011, the first Salt Table shop opened in historic Savannah. They produce more than 200 flavors under the Salt Table brand and recently added Georgia wine and specialty foods produced by other food artisans under the Georgia Grown® program.

Jennifer Hill Booker

Chef Jennifer Hill Booker is a Georgia Grown Executive Chef, Atlanta based cookbook author, and culinary educator, and believes that “food should taste like food.” Jennifer has spent her 20-year culinary career educating people about food, nutrition, and healthy cooking practices. Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer.