16 Mar

Far from Spain, olives may have a home in Oregon soil

By Liz Crain,

The Mediterranean region cultivates the majority of the world’s olives, but when it comes to domestic olives, California is the largest producer, cultivating roughly 10 percent of the world’s table olives.

Oregon has been typically considered either too cold or too rainy for olive cultivation, but farmers are beginning to realize that the state’s loamy clay soil and generally temperate climate are surprisingly hospitable to the gnarly, slow-growing trees.

Penny and Ken Durant of Red Ridge Farms in Dayton are so convinced that they’ve recently planted several groves of Spanish olive trees in hopes of pressing local, top-shelf olive oil by as early as 2008.

In the early 1970s the Durants were among the first Oregon oeno-pioneers to break ground, cultivating wine grapes in the red hills of Dundee. It makes sense that the Durants recently have transferred this pioneering spirit to the untilled territory of Oregon olives.

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