Did you know that there are actually quite a few commercial olive growers in Texas? That might come as a surprise, considering when you think of olive groves, you typically don’t think of San Antonio, Austin or Dallas.
In fact, almost a century ago Texas A&M conducted research which determined Texas was a poor place to grow olive trees, and this deterred growers for decades until a small group of trailblazers, including Sandy Winokur, decided they wouldn’t give up on their dreams.
Now, just 30 minutes south of San Antonio you’ll find one of the most magical places in Texas called Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard. Here, you’ll not only discover a stunning grove of olive trees, but a restaurant, retail store and even a nursery, if you’re interested in trying your hand at growing your own olive trees.
If you take an (olive) leaf out of Sandy’s book, you’ll learn which varieties grow best here. Although the tried and true variety she started with, that helped grow her business into the success it is today, is the Arbequina, Sandy is currently growing almost two dozen different kinds of olive trees.
Sandy explains that the Arbequina has done so well in Texas because it’s an ancient variety that is extremely adaptable and fast growing. Where most olive trees may not fruit for up to 5 years, the Arbequina can bear fruit by year two.
Those that already use olive oil religiously probably know its amazing benefits, but through trial and error, Sandy has discovered some uses for the olive tree that aren’t so common. For example, she uses the olive leaves to make a Texas favorite of iced tea, which isn’t only tasty but has healthful properties as well. It can lower blood pressure, and even combat the common cold. We don’t know about you, but that alone sounds like a good enough reason to give the olive tree a chance!
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