California’s olive pioneers highlighted in award-winning book

Photo: book cover for California's Olive Pioneers
Photo: book cover for California's Olive Pioneers

A new book that captures the heritage of California’ olive industry is now available from the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at the University of California, Davis.

The book, "California’s Olive Pioneers: Early Essays on Olives and Olive Oil," brings together for the first time 13 early essays on olive culture in California. It has been selected as a finalist in the Benjamin Franklin Awards Program of the Independent Book Publishers Association, in the areas of gardening/agriculture and science. The award recognizes excellence in independent publishing.

“Being selected as a finalist in these two categories is a signal honor for the Robert Mondavi Institute’s publishing program,” said Axel E. Borg, wine and food science bibliographer at UC Davis’ Shields Library. Borg was instrumental in identifying and selecting materials included in the book.

The essays, written by a broad spectrum of authors ranging from university scientists to California boosters to dedicated olive growers, were handpicked from dozens of late-19th-century newspapers, magazines, bulletins, journals, pamphlets and books.

“This is a collector-quality book that will be enjoyed by book lovers, historians, and olive growers and aficionados, alike,” said Clare Hasler-Lewis, executive director of the Robert Mondavi Institute.

Dan Flynn, executive director of UC Davis’ Olive Center noted that the rapid growth of the state’s olive industry closely followed the California Gold Rush in 1849 and the establishment of the University of California in the 1880s.

“Readers will find that the essays compiled in 'California’s Olive Pioneers' really capture the excitement and commitment of those early-day olive producers,” Flynn said. “This is particularly interesting as we are currently seeing something of a rebirth of the California olive industry in our own generation.”

The new olive book includes several rare publications, as well as the most complete copy to date of an address on olives by Benjamin B. Redding, for whom Redding, Calif., was named.

The foreword was written by Judith M. Taylor, author of "The Olive in California: History of an Immigrant Tree."

“Judith’s foreword gives us a glimpse of those early California olive pioneers, their challenges and their contributions,” said Borg.

The new olive book is bound in 19th-century style, featuring endpapers from a rare copy of University of California horticulturist Edward Wickson’s "The Fruits of California and How to Grow Them" (1891).

Copies of "California’s Olive Pioneers" can be purchased for $75 each at the UC Davis Bookstore, through the Robert Mondavi Institute website at, or by contacting Kim Bannister at the Mondavi Institute at (530) 754-6349 or

Media Resources

Pat Bailey, Research news (emphasis: agricultural and nutritional sciences, and veterinary medicine), 530-219-9640,

Clare Hasler-Lewis, Robert Mondavi Institute, (530) 754-6349,

Axel Borg, Shields Library, (530) 752-6176,

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