The tiny green olives may not look like much to most of us, but Florida growers see a potential cash crop that could feed local economies.
“There’s the fruit,” said Richard Williams, ticking off the potential versatility of olive-tree farming as he looks out over the dense 20 acres of trees he planted in 2012 near DeLand. “There’s the oil and then there’s the leaves that are popular in teas and getting attention from the natural supplements market for their medicinal qualities.”
In recent years as the number of citrus groves has declined, researchers have found success with alternative crops — such as grapes, blueberries, peaches and now olive trees — that do well in the sandy citrus soil.
Williams knows the financial future is still a gamble, but worth the risk. He is the owner of Florida Olive Systems, a distributor of Olint olive trees and grove consultation service.