Featured LIFE

Yes, olives are fruits

Imperial California Olive Mill
The Imperial California Olive Mill offers an assortment of products to customers at the Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market each week. (courtesy of Imperial California Olive Mill)

Yes, olives are fruits

By Terry L. Wilson

The Imperial California Olive Mill brings a Mediterranean staple to Scripps Ranch.

For more than 8,000 years, olives have been part of the human diet and each week that tasty fruit can be found at the new Scripps Ranch’s Farmers Market.

“Our company is a family owned and operated business,” said Imperial Olive Mill’s marketing director Erica Barioni-Amos. “At our booth we have extra virgin olive oil in a variety of flavors and, of course, we have olives.”

After just one taste of the Olive Mill products, you will know that there is something very special happening inside of those bottles and jars. The fresh-off-the-farm flavor is a treat for the most discriminating palate. 

“We are an olive oil producer with more than 100 acres of olive trees,” Barioni-Amos said. “At the mill we wash the olives, grind them and gently turn the paste to allow the oil and water to separate from the pomace. Then we use a centrifuge to polish the oil before storing in stainless steel tanks for racking. It just doesn’t get any fresher than this, and you can taste the difference.”

In addition to endless rows of olive trees, the farm has thousands of acres yielding a variety of other agricultural products. 

Running this massive farm is more than a business, it’s a family affair; a labor of love that has been passed from generation to generation. 

“There are four generations that have been active farming and I’m fifth generation, and each generation brings something new to the table and I’m hoping that my children will be the sixth generation to run our farm,” Barioni-Amos said.

Imperial California Olive Mill
A treasure of olives is harvested at the Imperial California Olive Mill farm. (courtesy of Imperial California Olive Mill)

Like many early farms, the Olive Mill got its start milking cows, then the family added ground crops like alfalfa. Next came produce. Then Barioni-Amos’ father added olives to the menu.

“My dad, Don, started the tree side of our farming industry,” Barioni-Amos said. “He began by growing jojoba, then we branched out adding citrus, lemons in particular. Around early 2000 we decided to plant our first set of olive trees. And yes, an olive is a fruit and it’s very healthy for you.”

Although Barioni-Amos spends much of her time on a computer, she is no stranger to getting up with the chickens to go to work. 

“Our farm operation is located in the Imperial Valley, and since I live here in Scripps Ranch, I commute to work, which takes about two hours,” she said. “I do most of the digital marketing but I’m also out in the field during harvest time.”

Since Barioni-Amos is a Scripps Ranch resident, the weekly trip to the Farmer’s Market doesn’t take quite as long as the trek to Imperial Valley. She says it’s one of the highlights of her week; she loves the atmosphere and hanging out with the other vendors.

“We love being part of the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market family,” Barioni-Amos said. “We have had a wonderful time there. We meet great people and we have gotten a customer base following. Those are our die-hard customers that come back every week. So, it’s an event that we look forward to every week.”

Barioni-Amos and her olives will be waiting to greet you at the Farmer’s Market on the produce side of the venue. Visit imperial-

The Scripps Ranch Farmer’s Market is held every Thursday, 3-7 p.m. at 10045 Carroll Canyon Road near Newtopia Cyder.