After Nan McEvoy fell in love with a former dairy ranch in the rolling hills outside Petaluma, she learned that the property, which was zoned for agriculture, must have an agricultural purpose. Fond of Tuscany and its chief product, olive oil, she investigated the possibility of converting the dairy into an olive farm and oil mill. On the advice of her son, Nion, Nan engaged Maggie Klein—co-owner and founder of Oliveto Café and Restaurant, who’d written The Feast of the Olive—as a consultant. Maggie, in turn, introducing Nan to Dr. Maurizio Castelli, agronomist and oenologist originally from Pistoia, who had supplied Maggie with much of the information for her book. Maurizio directed the tests and research on the soil and climate of Nan’s Marin property. One hundred tiny olive trees imported from Tuscany began the orchards. McEvoy Ranch now has 18,000 trees of various Italian varieties of olive, on 80 acres.
Environmental considerations inform everything done at McEvoy Ranch, the goal being a self-sufficient ecosystem. For example, they use sheep instead of mowers and plant beneficial cover crops like clover and vetch to reinvigorate the soil. Staff meals consist mostly of food grown on the ranch. Olive oil production creates much solid by-product, but with the help of a consultant, McEvoy has been able to turn this waste into the compost to fertilize the orchards.
Maurizio helped put in place a state-of-the-art Italian frantoio, where the olives are crushed and oil is extracted. Much McEvoy oil is the product of sinolea extraction machinery. At harvest, many local olive farmers bring their olives to the McEvoy frantoio to have them pressed.
Length of relationship with Oliveto
550 acres west of Petaluma
Olives. Secondary crops: Flowers, fruits, vegetables
Olive oil. Secondary products: olives, honey, jams
Member of the California Olive Oil Council
Retail shop at the San Francisco Ferry Building, as well as wide distribution to independent markets and Whole Foods