The very first 100 percent Canadian extra virgin olive oil did not come easy for pioneers George and Sheri Braun.
George and Sheri Braun of The Olive Farm on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia have successfully produced the very first 100 percent Canadian extra virgin olive oil from their 2016 harvest. The journey has not been an easy one.
Between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland, Salt Spring Island — the largest of the Southern Gulf Islands — houses a unique microclimate in its fertile Fulford Valley. With the area’s warm summers and mild winters, it could be described as a mild Mediterranean climate. However, that may be a stretch, George admits.
Here in this valley, after four and a half years of searching, George and Sheri decided to settle down and pursue their dream of owning an olive farm. With 73 acres, about 2,500 producing olive trees and their own olive mill, the dream has now become a reality.
Nothing came easy for this pioneering couple. “Everyone we talked to either hung up the phone or laughed and said, ‘You can’t do it there!’” George admitted. He had a difficult time finding someone who would even answer his emails about purchasing olive trees and bringing them to Canada.
He managed to buy several Tuscan varieties from California and shipped them to Canada with bare roots in order for them to be allowed across the border. This traumatic experience for the seedlings ensured that their transition to the Great White North would not be a smooth one.
In 2012, the Brauns planted 1,000 olive trees in the fields, and then they waited. Of course, in the meantime they occupied themselves by planting and harvesting other things, including blueberries, grapes, kale, wheat, garlic and the list goes on. More