A Month with my 1200 Year Old Olive Trees | Daily Diary from Greece

GROW Observatory
Nov 20, 2017 · 4 min read

Pavlos Georgiadis is many things — social innovator, ethnobotanist, business owner, media maker — and he’s also an olive farmer.

This time of year, he goes home to the family farm and brings in the harvest. Specifically, he turns the olives from the 1200 year old trees on his land into a much sought after single varietal organic olive oil called Calypso. What’s more, his farm will be the hub for one of the first emerging GROW Places — the locations where our citizen science projects begin. Here’s the first of our two stories with Pavlos on the farm and in the GROW place.

For 11 or so months of the year, Pavlos Georgiadis travels around Greece and Europe working on a number of initiatives — agri-food research and innovation projects, citizen science initiatives, climate change advocacy work, a hemp co-operative, all with a foundation in deep sustainability. In other words, all grounded in the world of agroecology and regenerative farming practices.

The other month is spent walking the talk. Every year in late autumn, the family farm in the small village of Makri in Thrace, Greece, lures this polymath home. And the olive trees — standing tall for over 1200 years — are offering up their bounty for harvest. Their fruit — an olive indigenous to Makri itself — will be turned into a highly regarded and much sought after Calypso single varietal extra virgin olive oil.

Sheila Dillon of the BBC Radio 4’s food programme visited Pavlos, who she described on her show as “one of Greece’s most important food thinkers.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08yltqv (from 13.38)

Back in 2015, Pavlos gave ARC2020 some background info on the farm and methods employed. So what’s the process on the farm itself?

“In Calypso, the olive grove is treated as a living ecosystem through the application of sustainable methods of autonomous management, following an approach that is in harmony with the rhythms of nature. Conservation of local biodiversity is the farmers’ strongest incentive, which is expressed by the large number of herbs and tree species, including almond, plum and apricot trees in some fields, as well as local vegetable varieties growing under the olive trees.”

He continues: “They produce an olive oil that comes from carefully cultivated trees thriving in clean, healthy soils. The cultivation follows innovative methods to increase fertility, always respecting the biodiversity and the structure of the soil. The aim is to gradually increase organic matter, with the application of organic plant and animal manure, leguminous plants, zeolite, effective microorganisms and our own farm-made organic compost.”

And this year, over on facebook, Pavlos has kept a daily harvest diary. It offers a fascinating insight into the procedure, from tree to bottle. Here’s a selection of some posts, which give a feel for the time this ethnobotanist spends with his own olive trees.

#Harvest Diary 2017 — Day 1:

We begun the olive harvest today on a rain-fed, unirrigated grove of ca. 0.45 acres. Although the prolonged drought has strained our trees for a second consecutive year, our 100% organic farm management brought impressive results.

90% green, unripe drupes of large size, with negligible attack by olive flies. It will yield an excellent, fruity olive oil, but also very good, healthy table olives.

Every year, organic farming and caring for the soil bring new lessons and good results, verifying our faith for agroecology.

#Harvest Diary 2017 — Day 4:

Today we celebrated our fresh, green, early-harvest olive oil, with Autumn flavours of Thrace.

#Harvest Diary 2017 — Day 7:

The second oiling of the season took place under 25.6°C, maceration time at 45' and lots of smiles! From 960kg unripe olives, we received 122kg of green olive oil.

#Harvest Diary 2017 — Day 12:

Early morning pressing today, for the 4th oiling of the season, with extraction machinery still cold, from 1560kg of olives — 90% unripe drupes.

Like what you read here? Sign up for our GROW Observatory newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cIxt75

GROW Observatory Stories

GROW Food. GROW Soil. GROW Science.

GROW Observatory

Written by

Let’s collaborate to grow great food, improve our soils, and help science with vital environmental monitoring. Get involved! http://growobservatory.org/

GROW Observatory Stories

GROW Food. GROW Soil. GROW Science.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade