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Dodge County farmer finding success with olive crop

Sharon Flanagan says they aren't any harder to farm than pecans or peaches

EASTMAN, Ga. — Mike Flanagan never should have underestimated his wife.

"My first comment was, 'How are you going to clear the land?' Next thing I know, she has a team out here clearing the land," he said.

In 2014, Sharon Flanagan planted thousands of olive trees. Today, she's got 18 acres.

Sharon didn't really plan for all of this. She was a high-powered executive-- an engineer at a big company, but she wanted something different and she wanted to learn -- and she loved to garden.

"I had been wanting for years to have a better understanding of weather," she said.

Really?

Now, she depends on it. Trees need sun.

Although Sharon says the greenery isn't much trouble, she thinks it's easier to produce than Georgia's other signature crops.

"I don't think it's any harder than the pecans or peaches," she said.

Fall is when the pebbly, pea-like crop comes off the tree.

Sharon has it milled and then brought back to Eastman.

"Every time I have some of that oil, I think, 'Wow, this came out of the orchard,' she said with a big grin on her face.

She's proud, but she's got street cred to go with her certified extra virgin olive oil.

You'll see a gold seal on every bottle that came from some pretty picky judges.

"The New York International Olive Oil Competition, which is a worldwide competition where they have a lot of countries enter," she said.

She bottles it by hand, working out of two tanks in a converted farmhouse.

The 64-year-old has plans to expand.

 As for Mike, her husband, he's super-proud and always looking forward to a snack.

"I love the olive oil -- a little olive oil, salt, and pepper -- I can eat that. That can be dinner," Mike said with a grin.

Here's something that you may not have known: the younger olives sport the green color. Black is when they're fully mature.

You can find Five Otters Olive Oil in various locations in Central Georgia like Dovetail, M&T Meats, and at Huffs in Milledgeville.

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