Olive trees come back to Crossroads area

Extra-virgin olive oil is a staple in any good cook's kitchen. And one day, people in the Crossroads will be able to buy real, locally-produced extra-virgin olive oil from a ranch right off U.S. Highway 59 near Victoria.

Jim Henry, a Texas olive oil producer who already owns an olive orchard in Carrizo Springs, has contracts for 383 acres in Victoria County and plans to plant 200,000 olive trees within a year and another 100,000 the following year to form the Texas Olive Ranch. He also plans to move a press house and bottling facility here, build a gift shop and eventually a bed and breakfast.

We are excited to see this new business opportunity coming to Victoria County. This unique entrepreneurship will be more than just another business contributing to the local economy. It also has the potential to be a major boost to Victoria's tourism industry. Olive trees are linked to the history of the Crossroads, going back to the days of the founding of the Spanish missions. Franciscan priests planted olive trees at the mission sites, a tradition that was honored recently in Victoria at the site of one former mission in Riverside Park next to the rose garden.

Now, Victoria and the Crossroads have the chance to benefit from these wonderful trees again. And we look forward to the opportunity to support a new local business by buying true, quality olive oil rather than the mass-produced, possibly adulterated brands sold in grocery stores. According to a 2010 study done by University of California-Davis, 69 percent of the extra virgin olive oil sold in the U.S. is adulterated or fraudulently labeled. With an olive orchard in Victoria County, Crossroads residents will have a chance to buy true olive oil with trust and confidence in the product. While many commercial oils are diluted with corn oil and other cheap additives, we will be able to see the trees the Texas Olive Ranch's oil came from.

We have said before how exciting it is to see Victoria's economy booming from the Eagle Ford Shale play, and this new potential oil boom is just as exciting to us. This will diversify Victoria County's economy and become another factor that makes Victoria a tourism destination.

So we welcome Mr. Henry's Texas Olive Ranch. We wish him the best of luck as he plants the trees and begins working to produce real, Texas-made olive oil. We look forward to giving it a try.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.