Olive Oil Industry Growing in Georgia

9:45 AM, Oct 21, 2013   |    comments
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On Highway 341 near Hawkinsville in Pulaski County, among the peanut and pecan farms, there's a field of olive trees.

Manse Jennings of Jennings Orchards says his grandfather once used the land for cows. Now he's using the land to farm olives that can eventually be used to make olive oil.

Currently, 98% of the United States' olive oil is imported from other countries.  Much of the U.S. production is in California, where Jennings got his trees from.

Now, Georgia is beginning to grow its olive industry.  There's another olive farm further south in Lakeland, but Jennings' orchard is one of the furthest north olives have been able to grow.

This year, he harvested around 13,000 pounds of olives, and says that number could triple in a few years when the plant is fully matured.

Jennings says the growing industry wouldn't just benefit the Georgia economy, it would also provide people better quality olive oil.  Jennings says European countries like Spain, Italy, and Greece often send over their lowest quality oil to the U.S. after saving the higher quality olives for themselves.

Jennings says his olive farm won't be profitable until a few years when the larger crop brings in money.  He says for now, he's focusing on getting the word out to the public about Georgia-grown olives.

Follow 13WMAZ's Tom George on Twitter @thetomgeorge

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