Brenda admits she had never tasted olive oil until she married her husband, Perry. His Italian family often cooked with olive oil since it was a staple in their kitchen. After five children and Perry's automotive career coming to a close in Michigan, the Rea's began to think about the next chapter of their lives. Brenda suggested growing olive trees to her husband who readily agreed. After all, you could grow olive trees in America just as well as in Greece, Spain, or Italy, reasoned Brenda. The question was where?
The Rea family toured various candidates like California but it was Arizona that won in the end. They zeroed in on Queen Creek in particular for its long farming tradition and the olive trees were heat hardy and required low water usage, so a match was made in the desert. As a result, they bought some land, planted about 16 varietals and built a simple warehouse on the site. Brenda describes a steep learning curve, but their passion and devotion have continued to drive the Olive Mill to what it is today.
Brenda says the business grew organically, driven by customer demand. At first, many people came out of curiosity, so they began to give tours and educate people about olive oil and production. This was followed by people asking if there was a cafe on site and eventually this led to opening a restaurant using their own olive oil in the food. They also started growing some other vegetables and the overflow would be sold in their shop.
Brenda is a big supporter of local businesses and felt it was important to support and sell many of their products at the Olive Mill's shop. Today the Olive Mill also holds festivals, events, and Brenda's pride and joy called Olivespa. Alongside her daughter, Joey, Brenda creates and sells skin care products that are made from their olive oil. Brenda admits that their business 'has more aspects to it than we imagined.'
Brenda and her husband Perry also completed a course in Northern Italy to become olive oil sommeliers. As a result, they are experts on olive oil and are often consulted by chefs and others in their industry who call from around the country. The Olive Mill has evolved alongside Queen Creek and attracts quite a bit of tourism too. Yet Brenda does not appear phased, like the olive trees, the Rea family has thrived in the desert. queencreekolivemill.com