Texas Association of Olive Oil (TXAOO) supports, promotes, and defends the growing, harvesting, processing, marketing and sale of Texas grown olive oil. TXAOO, through its members, coordinates all olive related activity in the State of Texas.
Texas Association of Olive Oil was established in 2016. TXAOO, working with the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas A&M AgriLife and the American Olive Oil Producers Association, combines all segments of the olive industry together in one organization which can effectively work to promote and develop the Texas olive oil industry.
Currently, Texas accounts for a very small percentage of olive oil production, with the majority of the commercial oils imported from Europe, and the bulk of American olive oil coming from California. However, the Texas industry is growing! Your support of Texas olive oil ensures continued growth and development of this industry in Texas.
Board of Directors
Mike Walzel – President
I started growing olives in 2020, near Navasota, after retiring from a long career in the chemical industry. By formal education, I’m a Texas Aggie with a degree in chemical engineering and an MBA. My farming experience is somewhat limited, but I have learned a lot over the past few years (much of it through the School of Hard Knocks). In addition to the olive orchard, my wife and I also operate a vineyard, with our goal being to grow and produce high-quality olive oil and traditionally-made balsamic vinegar. I have an incredible spirit to learn, problem-solve and overcome challenges, and have absolutely loved working with the folks I have met in the olive community so far. I want to help make growing olives in Texas a profitable and sustainable proposition, and I don’t think we’re as far off as some may think. Growing olives in the Lone Star State isn’t going to go away, and by working with other growers and the right experts, I am excited about what the future holds for the growers and producers here in Texas.
Adam Jenschke – Vice-President
Since 2006, I’ve managed a large ranch in Bandera County where I have run hunting, haying, cow/calf, and land management operations. In 2018, we formed High Pasture Olive Company and planted 29,000 olive trees, of which I am the managing partner. Since becoming an olive farmer, certified olive oil sommelier, and consuming as much education (and olive oil!) as I can, I have fallen in love with the olive tree and olive oil. As a member of the Texas Olive Oil Advisory Board and now the Texas Association of Olive Oil board, I look forward to helping grow the Texas olive community, which I believe can be a viable Texas industry.
Renee Majowicz – Secretary
I began the olive growing and oil production journey in 2014, when my orchard was planted near Elgin. I am pleased to be able to add my practical growing experience to the TXAOO and its members. As a TXAOO board member, I look forward to sharing what I have learned over the years, as well as supporting and helping to create a sense of community among all potential and current growers. I am excited to explore the many opportunities available to those interested in growing olives in the state as we continue to advance, promote and support olive production in Texas.
Mark Jones – Treasurer
I am a retired oil and gas attorney in Houston with no previous farming experience, who is excited by the potential in Texas for making world class olive oil. Together with my wife Melissa, I bought property in Lavaca County for the express purpose of growing olive trees. Of the 587 trees we planted in May of 2020, 350 have come back from the roots after the three freeze events we experienced in the winters of 2021 – 2023. I look forward to working to overcome the struggles that ALL Texas olive growers are experiencing, and helping to re-invigorate this industry and this organization.
Cathy Bernell – Director
My experience in the Texas olive industry begins in 2008, with one of the first olive orchards in Texas, extends to helping build the Texas olive industry infrastructure with the mobile olive mill and includes involvement and spearheading research projects, legislative initiatives and current positions on the Texas Association of Olive Oil and Texas Olive Oil Advisory board(s). I look forward to bringing innovation, cooperation and growth to the Texas olive industry.
Christine McCabe – Director
I am an owner, grower and producer for Lone Star Olive Ranch, near Madisonville. I campaigned extensively for legislative action at the Capitol and met with congressional members seeking support for the Texas olive industry, and helped craft writing outlines for the interim charge. I work with new and existing growers to improve cultivation and management practices in Texas and California.
Stephen Janak – Ad Hoc Board Member
Stephen is an Extension Program Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, working on The Sustainable Fruit Project. This project aims to determine the sustainability and economic feasibility of perennial fruit crops, while also working to improve and expand production in Texas. He has earned a BS degree from Texas A&M University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Horticulture. Stephen has been working closely with the olive industry since 2018, developing educational programs, working directly with olive growers to solve horticulture- related problems and providing advice. He also conducts the Texas Coordinated Olive Variety Trial, which tests many different olive varieties, along with on-farm olive research projects.