WEAR - Search Results
Local couple enjoys harvesting rare fruit
BALDWIN COUNTY -- Pecans, peaches, even Satsumas flourish in our parts...But olive trees? That's never been done on a commercial level, until now.
Steve and Susan Quantz wanted to grow something healthy...That didn't need a ton of space...A product they liked.
“Olive salad. I love martinis. So I love 'em in martinis, love 'em stuffed, any kind of way.”
So they settled on olives. A crop that's never been grown commercially here. No worries -- a friend had two olive trees that were 15 feet tall. Quantz researched and realized our well-draining sandy soil...And relatively mild climate works for olives.
"Getting close to zero probably will kill 'em but the kind of weather we get you get into the high to mid-teens at the worst these trees should be okay."
The couple brought almost a thousand saplings from California and hand planted them this spring.
The highest input costs have been a drip irrigation system...And a fence to keep out a certain gulf coast critter...Unprocessed olives are too bitter for even birds -- but it turns out deer love olive leaves.
"They will strip a tree off, strip all the trees off in a night."
The one question Quantz says everyone asks is: ”Are you growing green or black olives?”
“The answer is all olives start out green then turn red, then purple, then black."
Quantz says you harvest when the fruit's the color you want. He's hoping to have a commercial quantity in three years...He plans to press the fruit in his own facility. Recently -- more than a dozen USDA agents came to the orchard for a field trip.
"They came and asked a lot of the same questions that you're asking."
Quantz hopes to have a coop of gulf coast olive growers...In the meantime he's happy to be an ag pioneer.
"It's about trying to do something that nobody else is doing."