We planted our 2,800 olive trees (14 acres) in 2006 and 2007 because we've always loved eating olives and consuming high-quality olive oil on just about everything from vegetables to fish to eggs. In 1998 we purchased 320 acres 700 feet above the Solar Living Center and about 10 minutes by car to the West. We call our homestead "SunHawk Farms." It was a dream and at the time seemed like a great retirement income when fruition would come a decade or so down the road.
The financial aspect hasn't yet panned out but I can't say I'm sorry we planted our olive trees! They say at maturity you can get up to ½ gallon per tree and for us that would mean 1,400 gallons. Our biggest harvest so far has been 125 gallons or 1/20 of a gallon per tree. But what we lack in quantity, we more than make up in quality. Obviously I'm biased, but I truly believe SunHawk Farms' Biodynamic & Organic certified Tuscan Olive Oil is the best I've ever tasted. We specialize in classic Tuscan varietals including Frantoio, Lecchino, Pendolino, Maurino, and Moraiolo.
Our hand-picked olives are cold-pressed using our neighbors' classic Italian mill immediately after harvest. We harvest our olives at the perfect time to ensure this delicious blend of rich buttery flavor (from black olives) combined with the pungent peppery flavor of the highly sought-after polyphenol antioxidants (from green olives).
Olive oil's health benefits have been asserted for five thousand years and finally, recent research confirms much of that ancient wisdom. Studies on high olive oil Mediterranean diets confirm its benefits for bone density, cardiovascular health, brain health, degenerative joint disease and complications of type II diabetes.
I recently read an article in Farmacopia that talked about the "super shady worldwide olive oil racket," exposed in this country by Tom Mueller in a 2007 New Yorker article that evolved into his bestseller Extra Virginity. If you've missed out on this expose, check out this excellent New York Times magazine infographic that says it all: Olive oil exported from Italy is often cut with cheaper oils like soy and canola, doctored with industrial beta carotenes and chlorophyll (and who knows what else) to approximate color and flavor, and then shipped out as "Italian origin" EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). Some of our most common supermarket brands — Colavita, Filippo Berio, Bertolli, etc., failed to pass the standards of a true EVOO screen at UC Davis (in October of 2014, class action suits were filed against Bertolli and Filippo Berio).
If you don't believe me that SunHawk Farms makes one of the best olive oils in the world, here's some additional corroboration: we received a great recommendation on our olive oil from Dr. Andrew Weil:
"It's extraordinary - one of the best I've ever tasted - great depth and richness of flavor and an unusually pronounced peppery finish, which I love. I say that as one who has tasted a lot of olive oils - here and in Italy. Congratulations on producing such a fine oil."
For the Earth,
Real Goods Founder and former President