Olive Trail

The growing olive oil industry in Texas was spotlighted in a documentary on KERA in June called El Camino Olive Trail, made with help from the Texas Olive Oil Council. The program featured new and old olive farmers and described how olives became a Texas industry.
Dr. Karen Lee Henry at the Texas Olive Oil Council said the producers asked for help in telling the story of olive growers.
“We contacted over 100 olive farmers and helped with the filming throughout the year it took to make the film,” said Henry.
The United States imports 95 percent of the olive oil sold, and Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who promoted the film for KERA, believes Texas has an alternative for consumers.
“The good news is that the olive oil industry is thriving in the Lone Star state,” Staples said. “The Texas olive oil industry has enormous potential. As we grow as a state and nation, we need to ensure we have more high quality products grown here at home. We can’t become dependent on foreign food like we have on foreign oil.”
The film follows the history of the olive oil industry in Texas and features the stories behind the Bel-Asher and Texas Olive Ranch oils, together with Texas growers Tommy and Linda Qualia and their Val Verde Winery in Del Rio. Another grower, Paul Conly of Conly’s Olive Farm in Asherton, talks about planting olive trees on his family farm.
Franciscan friars planted the first olive trees in the 1700s around Spanish missions in Texas.
Nearly 100 years ago, pioneer Asher Richardson planted olive trees in South Texas. Those trees still survive and inspired Texas olive guru and Dallas native Jim Henry to plant 40,000 trees at Richardson’s original farm, now called the Texas Olive Ranch. That olive oil is available at Whole Foods stores in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
This year, Texas olive farmers should harvest another bumper crop of about 500 tons of olives.