Category Archives: Santa Inés Mission Mills

SBTHP Introduces Olive Oil Soap

by Melanie Magolan

At the end of every year, SBTHP hosts olive picking at Santa Inez Mission Mills. The olives are pressed into oil and bottled. It’s a big seller in the gift shop, with people waiting all year for the new batch of the Olio Nuovo. It’s also very popular with Santa Barbara tourists.

The olive grove at the Santa Inés Mission Mills. Photo by Christa Clark.

However, there are more uses for olive oil than just eating. This year, we decided to return to a project that had been conceptualized a few years ago, and turn it to soap. SBTHP found local small-batch soap maker William Smariga, and his company Salty Bros Soap, and a partnership emerged. The result? Three types of soap, plus lip balm.

Olives at the Mission Mills. Photo by Tim Aceves.
How Does Olive Oil Become Soap? A Quick Science Lesson

All soap has the same basic recipe: oils, mixed with sodium hydroxide – also known as lye. The types of oil vary, and other ingredients such as colorants and scents can be added, but the chemistry is the same. When combined, the oils and lye react and go through a process called saponification. The resulting molecule has two sides, one of which is attracted to water (hydrophilic), and other of which repels water (hydrophobic). The hydrophobic side attaches to the oils and dirt on your skin or other surfaces, and the hydrophilic side attaches to water and washes away, bringing those oils and dirt along for the ride.

Castile soap, or olive oil soap, is one of the earliest types of soap in existence. It would have been one of the varieties available to residents of early California, either on the annual supply ships, or made locally once olive trees were established enough to bear fruit.

The Soap Process

After extensive consultations with our soap expert, we decided to make two batches of soap. One is a pure Castile soap, unscented and uncolored. Although Castile soap does not create a lather, it is great for people with allergies to scents and other additives, and has many household uses.  The other is a mix of olive oil and coconut oil, split in half to make two scents.. The scents we ultimately decided on were citrus and rosemary, as scents that are appropriate for both the Presidio and Casa de la Guerra’s time periods.

We also made the last-minute decision to make lip balm, in addition to the soap. 12 oz. of olive oil can make over two hundred tins of lip balm. The balms are scented with peppermint essential oil.

SBTHP’s entire olive oil-related line. Photo by Tim Aceves.

The soap was delivered in February, but had to rest for a month to fully dry and reach its final size. This rest also allowed the initially overpowering scent of the rosemary soap to mellow out. All three varieties of soap, as well as the lip balm, are currently available in the Visitor’s Center Gift Shop, at the Casa de la Guerra, and on our online store.

Melanie Magolan is the Director of Visitor Experience for the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

Mission Mills Goats

by Andrew Doran

Towards the end of 2021, Santa Barbara County received over 8 inches of rain, turning the foothills and mountains from a dry, golden brown to a vibrant green, more reminiscent of the rolling hills of Ireland or Scotland. With the new grass and new vegetation, the Santa Inés Mission Mills property needed ways to help tame the new seasonal growth, so SBTHP turned to a small herd of goats:

“The goats and sheep have been in the Rasmussen and Mills Groves for about 2 weeks. They have grazed down the grass in that time and were removed today while their handler, David Uribe, sets up a new location on the Mills property,” wrote Leeann Haslouer, the Santa Inés Mission Mills State Historic Park Agricultural & Maintenance Supervisor. “They have 2 dogs that live with them to protect them from predators such as coyotes, bobcats, & mountain lions. The dogs’ names are Lulu and Scooby; the breed is Great Pyrenees.”

All images courtesy of Leeann Haslouer.

SBTHP’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

by Anne Petersen

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) is committed to following best practices in our field in our ongoing efforts to be responsive to our community. In fact, demonstrating progress towards national standards in the history, museum, preservation and nonprofits fields is one of the goals in our 2019-2021 Strategic Plan. Today, we can announce that we have taken a significant step towards that aim as we present our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Plan (2020 -2022).

The development of this plan was neither quick nor simple. Its origin lies in the planning work conducted in 2018 to develop our strategic plan, including input from the many community members who participated in focus groups and contributed to the direction of the plan. New organizational value statements we developed through that process include, in part:  

“SBTHP promotes the diversity of cultures that comprise(d) the Presidio Neighborhood.”

and also:

“SBTHP values and celebrates cooperation, partnership, equity, inclusivity, and diversity.”

We recognize that truly living our organizational values is not an inevitable outcome of announcing them. To address this, we included an objective in our strategic plan to develop a DEI Plan in order to create specific and measurable goals and objectives for this work. We also committed to sharing our plan publicly to ensure accountability from the organization.

Our staff and board began diversity, equity and inclusion training with Just Communities and consultant Judy Guillermo-Newton in the Fall of 2019. The Santa Barbara Foundation generously funded this work. The training, completed in March 2020 (days before the statewide shutdown due to COVID-19), provided our staff and board with a common language for the work ahead, and helped identify principle areas of focus and improvement to fulfill the promise of our strategic plan.

The ensuing months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and nationwide antiracism movement as a result of the murder of George Floyd, galvanized our resolve to complete our DEI Plan, even as we, board and staff, struggled with uncertainty in our field, and in our daily lives. Today we present this 2 1/2-year DEI Plan, not as an accomplishment, but as a first step, and a declaration of the important work ahead of us. We also recognize that we will be updating and issuing subsequent versions of this plan as we continue our organizational transformation.

We are learning that to make a DEI initiative stick, and to create real organizational change, requires hard work. It takes time, and a significant amount of discussion, self-reflection and discomfort from within the institution. It cannot belong to one person, and while we have learned from, and been inspired by the work of many others, the path ahead is ours to walk. We commit to continue the hard work and introspection required to make our organization more of service to, and embedded in, our community as we implement this plan.

Visit our website to see our DEI Policy Statement, and Goals, and also a downloadable pdf of the full plan. We have also added a list of free resources from the nonprofit, local history, museum, arts and preservation fields that we will be consulting as we conduct our work, and which we believe will be helpful for others.

California Missions Foundation Continues to Support Preservation Efforts at the Santa Inés Mission Mills

by Michael H. Imwalle
South side grist mill after repair. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

In December 2018 the California Missions Foundation (CMF) generously provided funding to help support SBTHP’s preservation efforts in Santa Barbara County. The project entailed the repair of the clay tile roofs on the grist and fulling mill buildings at the Santa Inés Mission Mills complex. Santa Inés Mission Mills complex consists of a grist mill and two masonry reservoirs that were built by the padres and the Chumash prior to 1818. The batán or fulling mill was designed and built by Joseph Chapman circa 1820. Both reservoirs and the two mill buildings are contributing elements to the Santa Inés Mission National Historic Landmark District (NHLD). The 37-acre mill property was purchased by Harry and Ellen Knill and was meticulously restored under their ownership. SBTHP purchased the property from the Knills in 1996 and completed the restoration with the addition of the hand-made, low-fired clay tile roof. In 2007 SBTHP sold the mill property to California State Parks with the intent of establishing a new State Historic Park featuring the open space of the former Mission agricultural setting and the historic mill complex. Preservation of the Santa Inés Mills is a primary goal of SBTHP and California State Parks.

Crew from Action Roofing repairing the east side of the fulling mill roof. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

The roofs of both buildings have been damaged by vandals over the years with a number of the tiles being broken from people climbing on the roofs. The repairs consisted of the replacement of approximately 140 broken roof tiles. The tiles were replaced with hand-made, low-fired clay tiles or ladrillos manufactured by the same company (Materiales de Construccíon) that made the tiles for the original restoration project. Action Roofing carefully removed the broken tiles and loose mortar, repaired the underlayment, and wire-tied the replacement tiles in new mortar.

Damage to south side of grist mill roof. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

We are extremely grateful for CMF’s continued support of SBTHP’s preservation efforts at the Santa Inés Mission Mills and are excited to announce that in October 2019 we received another gift from CMF that will provide much needed security gate for the property as well as the ongoing condition assessment of the painted red figure on the fulling mill. Stay tuned for a report on these projects in 2020!

North side of grist mill roof after repair. Photo by Michael H. Imwalle.

The 2017 Epic Olive Odyssey

by Michael H. Imwalle

On October 28th almost fifty volunteers from the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation started the 2017 olive harvest at the Santa Inés Mission Mills.  SBTHP staff, board, a team from the Anacapa School, and community volunteers gathered on a mild Sunday morning to pick the California Mission olives from the Mission grove. With a record turnout of volunteer pickers, almost the entire Mission grove was picked by lunch time. After picking volunteers were treated to a tour of the historic fulling and grist mills with Associate Executive Director of Cultural Resources Mike Imwalle. Following the tour, volunteers were treated to a barbecue lunch hosted by Mission Mills Agricultural and Maintenance Supervisors Tom Walton and Leeann Haslouer.

The following three days a six-person crew of professional pickers gleaned the remaining Manzanillo, Lucca, Grappalo, and Arbequina varietals from the Mills and Rasmussen groves.

We harvested 3.57 tons of olives, another record harvest. On Wednesday November 1st the fruit was processed at Figueroa Farms less than five miles from the site where they were harvested. The fruit produced 114 gallons of Extra Virgin olive oil. That converts to almost ninety cases of 12 – 12.5 oz. bottles. Ordinarily oil is stored in barrels prior to bottling until the solid particles settle to produce a clear product without sediment. Oil bottled immediately after processing still has solids suspended in the oil producing a slightly cloudy looking oil. The cloudiness reflects the sediments still suspended in the oil.

Volunteers enjoying the culinary artistry of Tom Walton.

The first twenty cases of the 2017 harvest were packed immediately and bottled as our 2017 “Olio Nuovo” or new oil. Olio Nuovo is the first press of the season. It is bottled unfiltered, immediately after crushing, and has an intense grassy, peppery fresh flavor. It is loaded with polyphenols and Omega 3s, making Olio Nuovo the healthiest oil available from each harvest.

“Liquid Sunshine” 2017 Olio Nuovo.

Produced from a blend of Arbeqina, Grappalo, Lucca, Manzanillo, and Mission olives, this special early release is available for a limited time. This year’s oil has been delivered and is available today! Order yours online at here or pick some up in the museum shop at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park.

Michael Imwalle is Associate Executive Director for Cultural Resources at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

The 2016 Epic Olive Odyssey

1
Trust staffers Kevin McGarry (l) and Sue Udden (r) picking Italian variety olives. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

by Michael Imwalle

On October 22nd, a group of twenty-five volunteer pickers joined Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation staff to harvest the 2016 Santa Inés Mission Mills olive crop. SBTHP staff, board, and community volunteers gathered on a mild Saturday morning to pick the Italian varietals Arebequina, Lucca, and Grappolo variety olives. Santa Inés Mission Mills Agricultural and Maintenance Supervisors Leeann Haslouer and Tom Walton spearheaded the effort that yielded almost 1000 pounds of olives. On Wednesday October 26th, a team of professional pickers picked the Manzanillo and Mission varieties in the Rasmussen and Mill groves.

6
Barbeque lunch for volunteers prepared by Tom Walton. Photo by Kevin KcGarry.

By the end of the week we harvested almost four tons of olives. On Friday October 28th, the folks at Figueroa Farms crushed our olives into 120.9 gallons of Extra Virgin olive oil. That converts to almost 120 cases of 12 – 12.5 oz bottles.  The following Monday, the oil was delivered to Olivos del Mar for storage and bottling. The first forty cases were bottled as our 2016 “Olio Nuovo” or new oil. Olio Nuovo is the first press of the season. It is bottled unfiltered, immediately after crushing, and has an intense grassy, peppery fresh flavor. It is loaded with polyphenols making Olio Nuovo the healthiest oil available from each harvest.

9
The first forty cases of Olio Nuovo being delivered to El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park gift shop. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Produced from a blend of Arbeqina, Grappalo, Lucca, Manzanillo, and Mission olives, this special early release is available for a limited time. This year’s oil has been delivered and is available today! Order yours online here, or pick some up in the museum shop at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. It sells for $15.00 retail ($13.50 for SBHTP members).

For more great photos from Olive Picking Day 2016, visit our Flickr Album here.

Michael Imwalle is the Associate Executive Director for Cultural Resource Management at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. 

The 2015 Olive Odyssey – Part 2

by Michael Imwalle

Gordon Sichi and the Anacapa School "Olive Pirhanas." Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Gordon Sichi and the Anacapa School “Olive Pirhanas.” Photo by Mike Imwalle.

On October 19th more than 30 volunteers joined a crew of six professional olive pickers to pick the 2015 Santa Inés Mission Mills olive crop. Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation  staff, Board, a team from the Anacapa School, and community volunteers gathered on a mild Sunday morning to pick the remaining Manzanillo and Mission variety olives from perimeter of the State Park property and the Mission grove. Santa Inés Mission Mill property steward Wayne Sherman noted that the team from Anacapa School was so efficient they went swarming from tree to tree like “olive pirhanas.”

Close-up of 2015 fruit before processing. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Close-up of 2015 fruit before processing. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Combined with the Italian varietals picked from the Rasmussen and Mill groves we harvested almost three tons of olives. On Monday morning October 20th our olives were crushed into 101.6 gallons of Extra Virgin olive oil. That converts to almost 86 cases of 12 – 12.5 oz bottles.

"Liquid Sunshine" 2015 Olio Nuovo. photo by Michael Imwalle.
“Liquid Sunshine” 2015 Olio Nuovo. Photo by Michael Imwalle.

The first twenty cases is being bottled as our 2015 “Olio Nuovo” or new oil. Olio Nuovo is the first press of the season. It is bottled unfiltered, immediately after crushing, and has an intense grassy, peppery fresh flavor. It is loaded with polyphenols, making Olio Nuovo the healthiest oil available from each harvest.

Produced from a blend of Arbeqina, Grappalo, Lucca, Manzanillo, and Mission olives, this special early release is available for a limited time. This year’s oil has been bottled and is being delivered today! Order yours online or pick some up in the museum shop at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park. It sells for $15.00 retail ($12.00 for SBHTP members) and $108.00 per case of 12 wholesale.

1.Mike Imwalle, Paloma Longo, and Zane Longo collecting olives from the pickers. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Mike Imwalle, Paloma Longo, and Zane Longo collecting olives from the pickers. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Michael Imwalle is the archaeologist at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation

The 2015 Olive Odyssey – Part 1

by Michael H. Imwalle

Wayne Sherman, mills steward. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Wayne Sherman, mills steward. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

After a very low yield of fruit in 2014, the Mission grove, Mill grove, and Rasmussen grove are producing nicely this year at the Santa Inés Mission Mills. Today Santa Inés Mission Mills Steward Wayne Sherman and I began the first olive picking of the 2015 season. Despite the fact it was well over 100⁰, we picked a small quantity of green olives destined to be cured as table olives. With the warm weather of the last couple of weeks the fruit is beginning to ripen faster than we anticipated and much of the fruit has already turned yellow/gold, and some are starting to turn purple.  Wayne and I spent the morning sorting through the largest, greenest Mission Olive variety. Wayne is going to prepare them in three flavors of brine using the cracked Sicilian style of curing. Look forward to tasting these beauties at Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation functions early in 2016!

Rasmussen grove of olive trees. Photo by Mike Imwalle..
Rasmussen grove of olive trees. Photo by Mike Imwalle..

The remainder of the fruit will be picked during the upcoming annual Volunteer Olive Picking Day on October 18th at the Santa Inés Mission Mills property. We anticipate yield of at least two tons of fruit, which will be milled into oil at nearby Figueroa Farms. The olives should yield fifty to sixty cases of very high quality extra virgin olive oil to be sold to support the development of the Santa Inés Mission Mills property. We should have Olio Nuovo in the gift shop by Thanksgiving this year! Olio Nuovo is bottled unfiltered, immediately after crushing, and has an intense grassy, peppery fresh flavor loaded with polyphenols, making Olio Nuovo the healthiest oil available from each harvest. Produced from a blend of Arbeqina, Grappalo, Lucca, Manzanillo, and Mission olives, this special early release will be available for a limited time.

Mission grove of olive trees. Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Mission grove of olive trees. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

We need your help! In addition to olive pickers on our upcoming volunteer day, we also need help doing general maintenance around the historic mills and reservoirs. If you are interested in picking olives or the preservation of the Santa Inés Mission Mills at this year’s Volunteer Olive Picking Day please contact Christa Clark Jones at (805) 966-1279 or by email at christa@sbthp.org.  You can get more information and directions to the site at SBTHP’s website here. Stay tuned for 2015 Olive Odyssey Part 2 to see pictures of the Olive Picking Day and find out how you can order your 2015 Santa Inés Mission Mill Olio Nuovo!

Mike Imwalle with olives destined for brining.  Photo by Mike Imwalle.
Mike Imwalle with olives destined for brining. Photo by Mike Imwalle.

Mike Imwalle is the Archaeologist and staff olio nuovo taster at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.