FAMILY OLIVE GROWING ROOTS

Olive Growing has been the family’s main occupation for centuries dating back to 1750 when the area was still covered mainly by the indigenous Olea Sylvestris and  less so by cultivated olive trees. In 1850 local farmers took the decision to organize olive tree cultivation grafting a large number of Olea Sylvestris with Peliou varieties, officially starting the olive growing systematic cultivation. This was the turning point upon which olive growing gained more space in the local residents’ occupation. A large number of workers worked for a long time to complete the olive groves’ extension

Olive Growing Profile

Our olive groves are part of a traditional olive landscape with unique cultural & environmental characteristics. Olive growing, fishing, livestock, agritourism, apiculture, horticultural and fruit bearing trees’ growing are the major occupations for local people, while 90% of the local income comes from the major occupation of olive growing. Economic & social life are directly affected by olive growing and have shaped the local habits and character for centuries.

The importance of the olive tree has remained imprinted in the region’s local culture, where olive growing trees and olive oil production have over the centuries led to the development of a number of practices, customs, rituals and beliefs that have been around since antiquity in practically all areas of life. All the peoples who have lived in this region have contributed their own technology and culture, turning the olive into a commonly used product as well as a primary commodity in trade throughout history.

This olive culture we have just described, which is authentic, Mediterranean and closely linked to nature and agriculture , is very visible indeed in Pteleos. In this region, olives are the socio-economic foundation for a significant proportion of its rural population, who are all linked to olives in one way or another, whether they are farmers or olive grove owners. If we look at olives from a consumer’s perspective, we can also say that most people in Pteleos as a whole, not just the rural population, are linked to olive oil in some way, and that they are experts on olives and everything to do with them. The integration of olive trees into the landscape, the diverse landscapes where olive trees grow, in addition to the economy and lifestyle of populations throughout history have led to the accumulation of a wealth of culture and a number of indications that this tree, its fruit (the olive) and its oil are amongst the defining features of the landscape.

Heritage values

Olive trees and olive oil – specifically, their cultivation, production and consumption – have shaped the Mediterranean world to a significant degree. This kind of potential has been derived throughout history from the iconic, symbolic character of this particular tree, which is seen as a tree of wisdom and peace, and one of the longest-surviving living things. They can live for hundreds of years, or, in some cases, more than a thousand years. All this being said, though, we especially need to attribute its potential to the varied and renowned nutritious, cosmetic and therapeutic uses the tree’s products have. In terms of heritage, we must recognise the crucial role this crop has played in defining the cultural and vital character of the Mediterranean

Socio-economic background: general classification of Pteleos  olive groves

Pteleos Olive Growers during daily harvest & launch break.In the old times olive harvest was a great feast connecting local residence.

The olive trees in the wider Pteleos region are more than 1.500.000 (Olea Sylvestris is not included) producing table olives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

As an agricultural ecosystem, the olive groves have the same production methods, cultivation techniques and so on. As such, olive groves developed  in the traditional  way in a semi-mountainous  environment, with low levels and  a wide range of production, one unique variety  and similar management systems .

Another feature that sets Pteleos olive groves apart is that they are overwhelmingly owned by smallholders. In the wider former Pteleos Municipality there are approximately  3000 smallholdings that cover an area less than a hectare, which account for 34% of all olive groves, with 47.5% covering between 1 and 5 hectares. Furthermore, smallholdings covering between 1 and 5 hectares are the most common in the area, occupying 24.6% of the total land. There are 300 smallholdings of less than 100 hectares, and, even though they only make up 0.3% of all smallholdings, they make up 11.3% of the total area of olive groves in the region.

The estates are located on the sea-side steep slopes of the South West Magnesian Pteleos hills in central Greece. An olive growing community with high biodiversity values, dating back to ancient times. Olive Growing has been almost the sole occupation of residents for centuries. The region has the ideal  location and micro-climate which can give high quality natural goods such as olive goods. Systematic cultivation starts way back in 1750 when local farmers grafted wild olive trees with Amfissis trees which led to the new variety of Pteleos Olea. Nowadays, the olive land consists of a mix of the local Pteleos Olea & Olea Sylvestris with unique characteristics. There are no industrial facilities in the wider region which means that there are no negative effects of heavy metals and similar contaminants in the aquifer.

 Cultivation Highlights

NATURE FRIENDLY

A Nature-friendly cultivation system is basic in order to keep the balance between olive tree productivity, nature and olive goods quality. We fight against olive fruit pests and the olive fly which are the natural enemies of olive fruit, using natural means such as combinations of Natural Pyrethron, Zeolithos and Kaolin. We use mowers to manage ground weeds. Olive trees are supported only by organic fertilizers. Pruning tactics aim to assist the olive trees’ proper growth and the production of good quality olive fruit. Soil analysis & leaf analysis are basic tools to apply for success in our nature- inclusive agriculture practices.

OLEA SYLVESTRIS IS ESTATES INITIAL VARIETY

Olea Sylvestris is the indigenous wild olive tree that has existed in the area since Homer’s days. Homer described the area as a place with a high degree of germination. The Ancient populations used the wild olive tree fruits to prepare olive oil and edible olives for their daily meals as well as for home necessities. Today there are three types of wild olives. Their physical structure appears different and they give three different types of olive fruit. Forty percent of the arable area is covered with Olea Sylvestris from which the highest Extra Virgin Olive Oil is created.

The Evolution: Pteleos Olea

Pteleos Olea was the natural evοlution coming from the local farmers effort to enter the intensive cultivation, developing the first systematic olive groves. Olea Sylvestris was grafted with Peliou and a new variety appeared. Although farmers used Piliou & Tragana slips for grafting wild olive trees, the newest Pteleos Olea has important differences in the morphology and characteristics due to the local soil and micro-climate .

The Future 

Olive Growing Heritage has been passed on to new generations. Our obligation is to improve the Olive Growing Tradition and link the past to the present. To link Tradition with  Science & Technology. Science and technology are two essential tools that can assist our continuous effort to produce not only exceptional olive goods but most importantly to preserve the sector’s culture and invite people to learn about it, live the experience inside a complex and unique ecosystem.