For years, oily fruit dropping from the university's 1500 olive trees created hazardous conditions on bicycle paths. Weary of the hazards and the high costs of tree maintenance, the university decided in 2005 to take a more sustainable approach and began harvesting the olives to produce olive oil.
UC Davis Olive Oil became a roaring success - reducing tree maintenance costs by an estimated 66 percent, eliminating liability claims, and garnering gold medals at the nation's largest olive oil competitions. The program has also been embraced throughout the university community; linking academics, administrators, students, alumni and industry.
Due to the wild success of the Olive Oil Program, the UC Davis Olive Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science was founded in 2008. Since its founding the Olive Center has connected 30 faculty and staff to industry education and research projects, delivered more than $400,000 in research funding to the university, and established important new resources for olive growers and processors.