Queen Creek Olive Mill

Queen Creek Olive Mill

Can a trip to Phoenix turn into a life-changing, family business venture? For one couple it did! Perry and Brenda Rea visited Phoenix, Arizona in 1997. In 1998, they were moving to Phoenix and planting 1,000 olive trees! Soon, they were running Arizona’s only working olive farm and mill – Queen Creek Olive Mill.

After a few initial successful years of selling their olive oil to the community, the Rea family (Perry, Brenda and their five children) wanted to offer something more. So, the product line was expanded to include items like vinegars and stuffed olives. A small café was added, and today they have three additional retail marketplaces, and supply much of the Valley of the Sun with local Extra Virgin Olive Oil, gourmet treats like tapenades and even a line of all natural home & body products, Olivespa.

The olive trees in Arizona blossom in April, then set fruit and grow through the summer months. Olives are harvested from mid-October through mid-December. One of the bonuses of the Queen Creek Farms is their commitment to sustainable farming practices. The grove is irrigated using micro-sprinklers that save water and deliver the correct amount to the trees. (The water is purchased from the New Magma water district that is part of the Central Arizona Project.) Water from the olive washing process is captured and used to irrigate gardens on the property. The roof of the mill is fitted with 444 solar panels that deliver over 30% of their yearly requirement of electricity. In addition, the olive pomace (the byproduct of the pressing process) is composted and spread back in the grove or used to keep the dust down on farm roads. It’s all very eco-friendly and allows customers to feel even better about purchasing their products.

In the spirit of community and supporting ‘shopping local,’ Queen Creek Olive Mill partners with and features other local vendors in their shops. It’s called the Partners in Passion program, and they chose partners that mirror their “From Blossom to Bottle” philosophy. Some of these partners are other Arizona artisan food and beverage companies, like Superstition Coffee, Valley Honey Co., Cerreta Candy Company, and Mediterra Bakehouse.

And they don’t just stop there! The Reas are passionate about olive oil and teaching others about it. They offer classes, tours, and events to help expose people to the wonder that is olive oil and its process. On their website, these events are detailed, and the Queen Creek Olive Mill products are available for purchase if you just can’t get to the farm in the near future. There are also recipes, olive oil tips, and menus for their on-site restaurant, which, of course, uses local and garden-sourced ingredients and showcases the various ways extra virgin olive oil can be used. (www.queencreekolivemill.com)

Kristine has been researching, writing about, and enjoying beverages for years. A freelance writer, she's wife to one cool guy, and mom to another. She's an avid researcher, reader, hiker, texter, hat wearer and music listener. She lives in Phoenix with the aforementioned cool guys and all three love to explore restaurants and travel. She can be reached at krisgresh@yahoo.com

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