Jan 062015
Darrien Ramsey of Terra Dolce Farms and Robert Mullinax of Zebina Whistle-Stop Farms discussing olive  tree pruning

Darrien Ramsey of Terra Dolce Farms and Robert Mullinax of Zebina Whistle-Stop Farms discussing olive tree pruning

A few weeks ago I was in Savannah hanging out with my husband, Mr. Olive Crazy, and visiting friends. Mr. Olive Crazy was dying to try out Cha Bella an innovative restaurant featuring local, fresh ingredients harvested and hunted by real people – no Sysco trucks rolling up here.

We had a great time chatting with the staff, who are also the owners. Of course we chatted about local olive oil too. They confessed that as much as they would love to offer Georgia olive oils on their menu the prices per bottle are too high for them to feature local evoo on Cha Bella dishes AND keep their menu prices down. I get it.

I almost forgot – the extra cool thing about Cha Bella is it’s location. It’s in the part of Savannah that housed the Trustees’ Garden where olives were grown with success in the 1700s. For more on the Trustees’ Garden and olives in Georgia see my earlier article about this subject “Thomas Jefferson Was Olive Crazy Too.”

Before leaving Savannah I met with my friend, Carol Chambers. Carol is a blueberry farmer and landscaping magician. We discussed using olives in some of her landscaping projects. I suggested trying out some of the sterile varieties since olives stain pavement and get tracked in the house staining rugs and floors too. After giving my advice we went for a short trip through her verdant backyard where I stepped in dog poo – tracking olives, tracking poo which is worse? Definitely the poo.

After all that fun I travelled due west to Lyons Georgia where I hoped to pop in on my friends at Terra Dolce Farms. As I turned into the Terra Dolce entrance I saw one of the owners, Darrien Ramsey, driving out. It was lunch time so I communed with the locals over fried chicken at Chatters Restaurant. Chatters is a southern-eatin’ delight and even though we have some great southern cooking places in my town of Wrens I just love Chatters.

Once lunch was over I headed back over to Terra Dolce and met up with Darrien and the second owner of this three-man operation, Tommie Williams. We had a great visit talking about harvesting, weather, tree growth, pruning, successful varieties, milling, production, and much more. It was finally time to go. I wrote a check and walked out the door with half a case of Terra Dolce’s latest extra virgin olive oil.

If you want to try the award-winning Terra Dolce Farms extra virgin olive oil you have two options: You can buy it directly from the farm at the Terra Dolce link provided above or you can stop in to Strippaggio located in Atlanta Georgia in the Emory Pointe Center across from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Clifton Drive.

Back here in Wrens Georgia at the Olive Crazy headquarters, Terra Dolce Farms evoo has dressed many a vegetable, meat and fish dish. It is such a family hit that soon I’ll need more.

May the sun shine through your branches.


May 222014

In the spring of 2014 Senator Tommie Williams, Darrien Ramsey, and Clint Williams owners of Terra Dolce Farms won an international olive oil competition and now it’s “game on.” Additional olive trees were planted this spring at Terra Dolce and I’m pretty sure they are a variety that hasn’t been planted commercially yet in Georgia. Even though it’s a few years away, I can’t wait to taste the newest evoo.

Terra Dolce‘s fall 2013 harvest, its first and most recent, sold out fast. One of the locations fortunate to sell Terra Dolce is Strippaggio, an olive oil, vinegar and specialty foods store located at Emory Point in Atlanta, Georgia. The owner, Celia Tully, could barely keep the buttery and grassy oil on her shelves.

Celia is very picky about the olive oils she carries at Strippaggio. She carries only US-grown olive oils and only the best. This is what sets Strippaggio apart from most of the other olive oil stores you will find around the US. Few are permitted by their supplier to offer US-grown olive oils and if you want some of the beautiful US-grown oils you find in California and Texas you need to order online or stop in locally. By the way, Strippaggio can sell online too.

Below is a link to a new article from Georgia Public Broadcasting. Enjoy.

Move Over Peaches: Olives Could Be Georgia’s New Popular Crop.

Apr 112014
Sen. Tommie Williams, owner of Terra Dolce Farms in Lyons, Georgia.

Sen. Tommie Williams, owner of Terra Dolce Farms in Lyons, Georgia.

Lyons, Georgia is now on the map for extra virgin olive oil. Terra Dolce Farms, owned by my friend and former colleague, Senator Tommie Williams, has earned Gold this past week at the New York International Olive Oil Competition. The winning oil is from Terra Dolce’s first-ever harvest.

Many, many, many congratulations.

I had the pleasure of tasting several of Terra Dolce’s extra virgin olive oils this past winter. Tommie and his guys hand-picked small batches of different varieties over the course of several weeks, milling and testing as they went – perfecting and data collecting. I have no doubt that all Tommie’s oils in the future will be so lovingly produced.

I’m sure many of you wonder why a Georgia olive-growing farm would be named Terra Dolce. Sure, there is the nod to the Mediterranean region, but it is also a nod to a very famous food from the area, Vidalia Onions.

In 1931 farmer Moses Coleman planted a variety of typically spicy white onions. When he harvested his crop he noticed that the onions weren’t spicy at all, they were sweet. This sweetness was due to the soil present in Toombs County where both Vidalia and Lyons are located. It certainly stands to reason that if the humble onion can be transformed then why not the humble olive.

I texted my congratulations to Tommie today and learned that he is busily planting more trees. I am excited and hope to visit with him this summer in his little piece of terra dolce.

May the sun shine through your branches.


Nov 052013
Logo of Georgia Traveler from Georgia Public Broadcasting

Logo of Georgia Traveler from Georgia Public Broadcasting

My Mom and brother, Joe, were in Savannah enjoying the beach and saw a Georgia Traveler segment about Georgia Olive Farms and the Inn at Still Pond. They called me but I missed it.

I did find it online and here is the link for all to enjoy – Georgia Olive Farms and Inn at Still Pond video.

To all of you who have asked me about making a visit to Georgia Olive Farms, I bet the Inn at Still Pond is a great place to stay for your visit. Berrien Sutton, one of the proprietors of the Inn at Still Pond, is also an owner of Georgia Olive Farms – that’s handy. The Inn is about 25 minutes away from the olive groves. The Inn features an organic farm, relaxation, and some great cooking. Sounds like a good time to me.

May the sun shine through your branches.


May 032013
Bob Krueger and Sam Shaw at Georgia Olive Farms

Bob Krueger and Sam Shaw at Georgia Olive Farms

I met Bob Krueger several years ago at the first big meeting of the Georgia Olive Growers Association and have seen and spoken with him on subsequent occasions. He is a nice man.

Over the years, Bob has worked alongside other Georgia olive growers to make the best of a new and exciting food opportunity for our state. He even went toe to toe with the USDA about the subject and won. I’ve spoken to Bob about his ‘meeting’ with the USDA and he is very modest about his success. “I just gave them the information they needed and they made the right decision,” he told me last year.

Back in 2010 Bob started planting olives and by 2011 he had two sites. Now Bob has 22 acres of olive trees planted and in a few years will produce extra virgin olive oil.

I ran across a recent news article about Bob and his olive growing efforts from Channel 41 WMGT in Macon and Warner Robins Georgia. The article is entitled “Olives Soon To Be The New ‘Peach’ For Georgia?” Here is the news video.

May the sun shine through your branches.