We work closely with all our friends and olive oil producers across the Mediterranean region and we have been contacted by Marta from Olio Merico near Salento about the awful disease that is wiping our thousands of ancient olive trees in that region.
We will be working with them to bring to the attention of the public the terrible problems that olive oil producers are having in that region with the decimation of these century old indigenous trees and the affect on the families and groups involved with the production of olive oil there.
Until the end of April Olio Merico are offering 30% off the normal price of their blended and monovarietal extra virgin olive oils to help toward funding an organic treatment of this disease.
Along with Slow Food Anglia, Olivaverde will be giving a presentation about the project in Cambridge on Thursday 5th April and will be ordering olive oil for clients and interested members of Slow food and the public in April.
Below is the text that was sent to us at Olivaverde this week and please do contact us if you wish to be involved, any help with this important project will be much appreciated.
There are 10 million beautiful olive trees in Salento (the southern tip of Italy’s Puglia region), many of them Centuries old which unfortunately risk extinction due to a bacterium (Xylella X. Fastidiosa) and other pathogens that contribute to the phenomenon of OQDS (olive quick decline syndrome) which is decimating the plants. The mechanism of pathogenesis is largely unknown and as many of the plants are asymptomatic carriers of the bacteria this can contribute to its spread.
This is a very serious phytopathology, which first appeared around 2008/2010 heavily affecting the Salento area and is defined by Joseph-Marie Bové, of Agriculture Academy of France: “the worst phytosanitary emergency in the world”.
Our organic oil company, www.oliomericosalento.com, deals with the treatment of 1800 of our own plants and has produced high quality extra virgin olive oil since 1700.
Unfortunately due to this very aggressive new disease all our plants are likely to die if not treated. We have already lost about 200 and it has been terrible for us.
Because of this awful disease it is a common opinion that the only solution is to replace the ancient plants of the varieties Cellina di Nardò and Ogliarola Salentina with completely new varieties.
But the oil that comes from these autochthonous varieties is unique in the world, it is award-winning and appreciated by connoisseurs for its health effects, for its aromas of wild berries, bananas and almond that cannot be found in other varieties and they risk disappearing forever causing immense damage to typicality, tradition and biodiversity.
Please note that Cato the Censor (234-149 BC), a Roman senator and historian, wrote about cultivar Ogliarola Salentina and Cellina di Nardò was cultivated by Basilian monks in the 10th century.
Furthermore, the new cultivars will also have a strong environmental impact on the territory due to the waste of water resources and the use of pesticides that the new plants will need.
Our plants are not irrigated because they have adapted over the centuries to the pedo-climatic characteristics of our territory and have always coexisted with diseases and drought conditions.
Today we need extra help to fight this terrible disease and we are convinced that there is still hope, even if it requires many sacrifices, especially economic. Our company is very small and it is very difficult to support this battle alone and that is why we need your help to continue fighting the disease that afflicts our trees using only totally natural, organic and environmentally friendly methods. This includes the increase of organic substance from organic compost, the use of phytotherapy through essential oils (for example neem, rosemary, lavender, etc.), homeopathy, the use of "good" microorganisms (antagonists of the killer bacterium) and planting typical tree species of the Mediterranean scrub to increase biodiversity in our land.
We must and we want to try everything we can before we lose an unrepeatable heritage for humanity, made up of millennial plants, these silent witnesses of our history.
Even if the olive tree is sick, the quality of the oil is not affected and our living monuments still give us unique products that we want to continue producing for all of you.
Among our supporters:
A prestigious company in Paris, (www.1h1f.fr) which is married to our cause and inspired by the magical shapes of our trees, created and gave us a new graphic design for the company;
A wonderful company of oil and high quality artisan food enthusiasts (www.olivaverde.co.uk) currently engaged in the creation of an important Mediterranean Olive Oil Academy in Malta will help us with a crowdfunding campaign and to promote our product in international food shows.
Losing these beautiful and precious living monuments would be an immense tragedy so please HELP US.