The French Olive Ranch rests at the base of the Sierra Foothills, in the heart of California’s warm Mediterranean climate. Our trees are of French varietals and produce a mild, buttery Extra Virgin Olive Oil ideal for dipping, salad dressings and finishing chicken, seafood, and pastas.
We encourage health and happiness through a passion for good food, a little hard work, and a community of family and friends. Our philosophy is “many hands, makes light work.”
After years of raising our 4 children and a few sheep on our small ranch outside Oakdale, California, we faced retirement and the prospect of not enough to do. So, we decided to chart a new path and a new direction.
Yancey had retired from teaching Agriculture at Modesto Junior College and I had been working and teaching at a local quilt store. Several considerations, such as our soil, water quality, and our particular climate, guided our choice toward planting olive trees.
With many California growers planting the Italian olive varieties, we decided to cultivate French varietals especially known for their high oil content. After tasting olive oil during a trip to France, we definitely knew we wanted to grow and produce quality French olive oil. Yancey and I worked with Santa Cruz Olive Nursery and they provided us with the varietals we needed to get started.
While Yancey handles most of our equipment operation and mechanic jobs, I take care of the paperwork and marketing. Through diligent perseverance, we got the field prepared for planting on a traditional 12′ x 18′ tree spacing. Our local irrigation company worked with us to setup an efficient drip irrigation system and we were ready for planting! The “Juergenson Olive Festival” was launched on April 22, 2006!
Now, we had trees in the ground and we thought we could turn our attention to naming the ranch and its future product. The growing process, however, was not quite as easy as we discovered in January of 2007. A cold spell produced temperatures well below freezing for three solid days and most of our small trees were lost. We re-planted in the Spring of 2008.
Meanwhile, we kept searching for an appropriate ranch name for our fresh olive oil. After a year’s deliberation and a trashcan full of rejected names, simplicity won out with the selection of “The French Olive”. Our little enterprise was officially launched and established as an LLC.
In 2011, The French Olive became a green company with the installation of an 11.5kw solar panel system. This power supplies our entire energy needs for irrigation, the shop and barn as well as our home and a farm vehicle.
After harvests in 2010 & 2011, we used hang tags to label our bottles, but it was clear we needed “real” labels for the retail market. Once again, the process began: research, discussion, all-family input and at last our new contemporary label debuted at harvest 2012.
This new direction and adventure in our life has brought us, not just sore muscles, but wisdom and great satisfaction in working our land and producing a healthy and useful product.