California Olive Ranch Pursues Regenerative Agriculture

COR is aiming to become one of the first large, permanent crop farmers to effectively pursue a regenerative agriculture approach, which entails slashing waste and reusing byproducts.

Oct. 9, 2017
By Joanne Drawbaugh

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This is the sec­ond install­ment in a series of arti­cles on California Olive Ranch, the largest American olive oil producer.

As nat­ural dis­as­ters con­tinue to dog var­i­ous regions, cities log their hottest sea­sons on record, and the state of our planet’s cli­mate remains a hotly debated ques­tion, California Olive Ranch CEO Gregg Kelley asserted that his com­pany has taken deci­sive mea­sures to work with the land,” rather than against it through­out their pro­duc­tion operations.

We take pride in find­ing new ways to work with our envi­ron­ment to ensure we are oper­at­ing in har­mony.- Gregg Kelley, California Olive Ranch

Using sci­ence and data the com­pany boasts that 99 per­cent of waste is recy­cled and their meth­ods help the ecosys­tems in which the com­pany grows its olives and mills its oils.

Beyond con­serv­ing resources, COR hopes to become one of the first large, per­ma­nent crop farm­ers to effec­tively pur­sue a regen­er­a­tive agri­cul­ture approach, which entails slash­ing waste and reusing what is inevitably left­over. According to a state­ment pro­vided by the com­pany, there are no large-scale, per­ma­nent plant­ing farm­ers pur­su­ing Regenerative Ag.” COR has enacted mea­sures to reuse each of the byprod­ucts that come from its pro­duc­tion process, includ­ing pomace, trim­mings, and water.

Gregg Kelley

Pomace and other waste gen­er­ated from olive pro­cess­ing are dis­trib­uted to local ranches for use as cat­tle feed. Trimmings are recy­cled for com­post to be used through­out the company’s var­i­ous groves, and water is recy­cled for irrigation.

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COR’s largest con­ser­va­tion com­pe­tency lies in its sophis­ti­cated irri­ga­tion sys­tem. One of the company’s groves is watered by two reser­voirs which are drawn upon only when alerted by real-time sen­sors, allow­ing the com­pany to decrease water inputs and mon­i­tor how cer­tain acres or plots are growing/thriving” irri­gat­ing only when trees require it. This water is then applied through drip irri­ga­tion which min­i­mizes water usage and allows less water to evaporate.”
See Also: This year’s award-win­ning olive oils by California Olive Ranch
Milling facil­i­ties fea­ture machin­ery designed to require less water. Cleaning agents used in the san­i­ti­za­tion process have been chem­i­cally ana­lyzed to ensure that water can be recy­cled for irri­ga­tion pur­poses after use.

In pack­ag­ing oper­a­tions, COR explained that all of the glass used in bot­tling is recy­clable and card­board used for food­ser­vice prod­ucts is from recy­cled mate­r­ial. Plastic bot­tles are made from HDPE and PET plastic.

While olives do not require bees for pol­li­na­tion, COR part­ners with mul­ti­ple api­aries to house their hives dur­ing the offseason.”

Touring California Olive Ranch’s grove COR 3, it’s easy to dis­cern where their prop­erty ends and the adja­cent one begins. While the land across the line has been neatly tilled and lays bar­ren wait­ing for a crop to take over, COR’s trees thrive among the brush that the com­pany has left intact.

In this envi­ron­ment, wild ani­mals of all sorts pop­u­late the groves, peace­fully coex­ist­ing among the lush rows of olive trees. A Greater Roadrunner scur­ried through some trees in the north­ern­most reach of its American habi­tat. We take pride in find­ing new ways to work with our envi­ron­ment to ensure we are oper­at­ing in har­mony,” Kelley said.


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