INAUGURAL TEXAS OLIVE OIL CONFERENCE ATTRACTS GROWERS
In late August, nearly 300 participants wanting to learn more about the olive oil industry made their way to San Antonio for first ever, Texas Olive Oil Conference. The event provided the most current information on various aspects of olive farming and producing extra virgin olive oil in Texas.
“It was significant that so many people came,” Karen Henry, vice president of the Texas Olive Oil Council, said. “We expected 150 and got almost 300. It really shows how olives as a specialty crop have taken root in Texas.”
Olive oil is an emerging industry in Texas with a few pioneer-growers having spent more than a decade establishing the state as a bona fide olive producer. Each year, more acreage is dedicated to olive orchards as the state expands its olive-growing region.
“Collectively, we have learned a great deal,” Jim Henry, president of the Texas Olive Oil Council, said. Jim was one of the earliest olive growers in Texas and his Texas Olive Ranch is the state’s largest olive oil producer. “The early efforts can all be viewed as large experiments. We learned a great deal about where orchards are productive in Texas and where they are not and we began to understand the growing areas. All of them have different challenges.”
The San Antonio conference allowed existing growers to share what they’ve learned with others interested in being part of the booming olive oil industry. Worldwide EVOO sales have risen dramatically in recent years due to the popularity of the Mediterranean diet and increased consumer awareness about the health benefits of olive oil. With Texas joining the ranks of olive-producing states, some of the revenue should stay at home rather than being sent to olive producing nations abroad.
Seminars at the conference included:
- Introduction to super high-density olive oil production
- EVOO industry and market outlook in Texas
- Temperature interruption effects on olive production
- The power of GO TEXAN programs
- Olive Oil Research at Texas Tech University
- Availability of orchard Insurance
- Developing and marketing your olive oil brand
“We have been awarded another grant and will do another conference in August,” Karen said. “I am planning to create online sessions for the particular topics that require project inputs to be meaningful. Once we have online tools developed, people can really get specific estimates for what they want to achieve.”
For more information on topics covered at the Texas Olive Oil Conference, go to www.TexasOliveOilCouncil.org.
Someday, I hope to develop an Olive Farm down in the Hill Country that features an on-site tasting store, as well as feature some Texas made wine from different wineries. Of course there would be some Texas Tiny Homes scattered around the farm for guests to stay in.