Valdosta Daily Times

Business

May 3, 2009

Olives are the latest South Georgia crop

VALDOSTA — South Georgia’s known for a variety of things — education, entertainment, and for Valdosta being crowned TitleTown. Now, the region can add a new item to it’s repertoire: olives.

Ronnie Courson, brothers Jason and Sam Shaw, and Kevin Shaw have collaborated in purchasing land to develop their own Olive Farm in Lanier County.

“Well, the idea to begin an olive farm came from the fact that farmers are looking for other things to farm,” said Jason Shaw. “The blueberry market is saturated and there’s currently a surplus. So, now we’re forced to look for other things to grow. These olive farms initially started out in other parts of the world. Research has shown that there is a huge consumption of olive oil. Numbers reveal that within the next five years, the world is expected to use over 80 million pounds of olive oil, but there’s only 600,000 being produced in the U.S.”

The land is divided among all four partners who envision the olives to eventually be used to produce its own oils. There will be three types of olives grown, the Arbequina, Arbosana, and Koroneiki, which are pollinators.

“We hope to plant on more acres and encourage other farmers to do the same,” said Sam Shaw. “We want to press our own olives and bottle the oil to sell worldwide, starting and producing oil from the bottom up.”

Owners suggest that they are not only providing a service to the Valdosta area but to the state of Georgia.

“We plan on expanding to a facility where oils can be produced, which will produce several benefits,” said Jason Shaw. “We can get sales tax generated which will be good for the economy and by opening up a facility, we can increase the number of jobs in South Georgia.”

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