Nestled in the heart of California’s wine country, Soledad Mission is located in the picturesque Salinas Valley. On the grounds of this historic Catholic mission, founded in 1791, Mission Olive Oil is being made from heritage olive trees. Learn how Sanctuary Soil’s Buckaroo worm castings are helping to revitalize this special and sacred soil. Photo copyright Mission Soledad.
Mission Olive Oil — How It Started
The Catholic padres in California had years of fruitful olive tree harvests before the secularization of the missions. After that the groves went fallow and all but a few trees near La Purísima Mission were lost. Photo copyright Mission Soledad, Nancy Haven
To preserve and restore any remaining heritage olive trees, the Mission Olive tree project started as an initiative under the California Olive Oil Council. The initiative was then carried on by another non-profit organization, Mission Olive Preservation, Restoration, and Education Project (MOPREP).
It was with MOPREP’s support that a 200-tree grove was first planted in 2000 with the assistance of Nick Bianchi, who was then director of Mission Nuestra Senora de la Soledad.
Sadly the grassroots effort lost ground, but that made way for Maria Maldonado, owner of Vista Verde Labor to begin maintaining the grove and create the brand Mission Olive Oil.
Mission Olive Oil is Born
“Mission Soledad wanted to bring back this part of the area’s rich history and culture that had been lost,” explains Maria. “Thanks to earlier efforts we now have 200 trees grown from the stock of trees planted by the padres themselves on what is known to be the original site established by the padres.”
From the historic one-acre grove, Maria produced the incredible first cold press oil in 2009. Today, the grove has completed its fourth harvest, and sells olive oil at the mission and a variety of local stores. Rumor has it, that soon the olive oil will be available at a local restaurant. Photo copyright Mission Olive Oil
Grateful for the opportunity and in accordance with the practice of the padres, Maria donates ten percent of the processed oil to the Catholic Diocese of Monterey for use as ambry oil. This oil is traditionally used by priests when anointing a member at baptism, confirmation, marriage, blessings or death. Photo copyright Mission Soledad, Thomas Howard
Bringing in Buckaroo
While the Mission Olive Oil’s last four harvests have resulted in terrific tasting olive oil, the olive groves need regular revitalization. “That could certainly be done with fertilizer,” admits Maria, “but it’s important to me that something that is good for you and God himself should also be organic.”
As Mission Olive Oil works to bring the centuries-old orchard into compliance with organic standards, Sanctuary Soil is delighted to help them along their journey.
We are pleased to announce that our premium Buckaroo Worm Castings is being applied to this unique olive grove to yield even better results by increasing the soil’s vitality and percolation.
Sanctuary Soil is honored to be a small part of this historic story, which touches the roots of faith and labor of the padres and the church members before the secularization of the Catholic missions in California.
Where to Buy Mission Olive Oil
Mission Olive Oil has a suggested retail price of $17 for small bottle, $38 for large bottle. It is currently sold at the following locations:
Grove Market Inc, Pacific Grove, CA
Morgan Wine Tasting Room, Carmel, CA
Nielsen Bros Market, Carmel, CA
Soledad Mission, Soledad, CA
Star Market, Salinas, CA
Stone Creek Kitchen,Monterey, CA
Talbott Vineyards Tasting Room, Gonzalez, CA