As it turns out, olive groves used to exist in this area of Georgia, but a hurricane more than a century ago destroyed what had been left of dwindling olive trees. In this article, the Washington Post explained what prompted one of the farmers to start growing olives:
Generations of Shaw family farmers in Lanier County have grown cotton, peanuts and corn. But in 1996, Lakeland (Georgia) native Jason Shaw returned from a trip to Verona, Italy, where he had been struck by the sight of prolific orchards, and said, "We ought to grow olives in Georgia."I look forward to tasting Georgia olive oil. As they say, the proof is in the pudding.
... Now 12 farmers and a small army of extension service agents and horticulturalists are tending 95 acres, spread over seven Georgia counties south of Atlanta that fall in the South's "olive belt," a zone with a climate conducive to growing the cold-resistant types.