` Olive Tree Seeks Caring Family for Long-Distance Relationship - Olive Oil Times

Olive Tree Seeks Caring Family for Long-Distance Relationship

Sep 25, 2010 5:07 PM EDT
Cristabelle Tumola

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By Cristabelle Tumola
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from New York

In the past few decades the con­cept of adop­tion has been stretched to include a per­son donat­ing money for the adoptee to be cared for in its own envi­ron­ment, such as sav­ing endan­gered ani­mals, like pan­das, or threat­ened envi­ron­ments, like rain­forests. Recently, the adop­tion def­i­n­i­tion has once again been extended to include not only adopt­ing a piece of nature and help­ing to pre­serve it, but also receiv­ing what it pro­duces. These adop­tions include fruit trees, such as apple or peach, as well as olive trees.

The con­cept of adopt­ing a tree and receiv­ing its goods has a strong con­nec­tion to recent food move­ments, whether it’s eat­ing health­ier, more organic or local. Part of the idea behind the local food move­ment is that peo­ple want to feel a stronger con­nec­tion to the food they eat, to the per­son grow­ing the food and to the place they live. Of course, for the major­ity of the coun­try olive oil is not a local prod­uct, but by adopt­ing an olive tree, it can pro­vide a sim­i­lar com­fort.

Among the most notable of the adopt an olive tree pro­grams is Nudo, whose groves are mostly located in Italy’s cen­tral-east­ern region of Le Marche. Started in 2005, the pro­gram now has adoptees through­out the world, in places such as the U.S., Australia and Japan. For a yearly fee, an adopter receives three dif­fer­ent pack­ages through­out the year: two olive oil ship­ments and one with a
per­son­al­ized adop­tion cer­tifi­cate and book­let about the tree. In addi­tion, Nudo
gives each adopter the chance to pick a tree from one of their six groves.

features-olive-tree-seeks-caring-family-for-longdistance-relationship-olive-oil-times-abruzzo-passion----olive-oil-timesAlso in Italy, is Abruzzo Passion, named for founder Albina Fabiani’s love for her home­land and the sim­plic­ity of life in Abruzzo. Founded in 2006, Fabiani offers walk­ing tours to trav­el­ers, in addi­tion to the adop­tion pro­gram. Adopters get to choose from one of two olive groves with a vari­ety of trees. Each per­son receives an adop­tion cer­tifi­cate and tree infor­ma­tion, a spring pack­age with stone crushed extra vir­gin olive oil and an autumn pack­age of olive oil fla­vored with Abruzzo herbs as well as a per­son­al­ized cook­book.

Across the European con­ti­nent to the west, in Spain, is Finca Vall den Rubi. Its olive grove, con­sist­ing of 700 trees, and a Spanish cot­tage, where guests can stay, are located in the Baix Ebre area in south­ern Catalonia. As with the pro­grams in Italy, Finca Vall den Rubi gives each adopter a cer­tifi­cate and
photo of the tree along with 2 liters of extra vir­gin olive as well as a voucher for a
dis­counted stay at the cot­tage.

Adopting an olive tree isn’t lim­ited to the east­ern side of the Atlantic. America also has some its own pro­grams. One of those places is in an area that few think of when they pic­ture an olive grove — Texas. Located in the Central Texas Hill Country near the town of Dripping Springs, Texas Hill Country Olive Company, a fam­ily-run organic olive farm has five dif­fer­ent types of olive trees that can be adopted. It not only gives its adopters oil from their trees, but also their own per­son­al­ized label on each bot­tle.

A more famil­iar loca­tion for U.S. pro­duced olive oil is California. Despite the recent olive oil craze on the West Coast, only one name comes up when search­ing for California olive tree adop­tion pro­grams—Olivas de Oro Olive Company. Founded by the hus­band and wife team of Frank and Marti Menacho in 1999, their pro­gram is just a few months old. Along with three ship­ments of extra vir­gin olive oil, an adop­tion cer­tifi­cate and a photo of the tree, each mem­ber also gets a Certified California Organic Farmers’ cer­tifi­cate.

Even though each of these pro­grams are in dif­fer­ent loca­tions, with vary­ing ben­e­fits, prices and trees, they all have some­thing in com­mon when it comes to the rea­sons behind and the value of their adop­tion pro­grams. For the European pro­grams, it comes from his­tory, tra­di­tion and the drive to help out small arti­san olive farm­ers. In order to ensure the qual­ity of olive oil, Nudo pro­motes small-scale farm­ers, many of who, with­out a pro­gram like Nudo’s would be forced to sell their olive oil at low prices and soon become a thing of the past. The chil­dren of the old farm­ers don’t want to spend time and energy farm­ing. So the tra­di­tional olive plan­ta­tions are in seri­ous dan­ger and could be neglected,” says Annet Timmer and Trees Turpijn, the own­ers of Finca Vall Den Rubi.

At Texas Hill Country Olive Company, it’s also about tra­di­tion, but about estab­lish­ing a new one for future gen­er­a­tions. The own­ers, Rick Mensik and John Gambini wanted to build some­thing that would last, some­thing that they believed in, so they decided on an olive orchard,” says Nicole Swanson, Mensik’s daugh­ter and the one who is in charge of adop­tions. We also wanted a busi­ness where we know our cus­tomers and have rela­tion­ships with them,” she adds. Marti Menacho of Olivas de Oro Olive Company has the same dri­ving force behind her pro­gram: Truly our moti­va­tion for doing this was to really involve peo­ple. We just didn’t want to be a name­less face of a ship­ment that arrives on your doorstep with no con­nec­tion.”

Hicham Takache

Although these pro­grams can range from around $90 to $150 per year, for the pro­duc­ers, and for their cus­tomers, how­ever, the value can’t be mea­sured in dol­lars and cents. It is not about buy­ing, it is about help­ing,” says Albina Fabiani. The qual­ity also cre­ates great value as Nudo’s Marketing Manager, Roelof J. le Roux, explains: In the spring­time, adop­tive par­ents receive olive oil that was still hang­ing on the tree’ just four months before. As leg­is­la­tion demands that Best Before dates only be applied upon bot­tling, most big olive oil brands in super­mar­kets sell oils that have been stored in tanks for one or two years or even more. This way super­mar­ket cus­tomers never expe­ri­ence the real ben­e­fits of fresh, healthy, fla­vor­ful olive oil.”

Adopt an olive tree pro­grams also offer cus­tomers a chance to increase their con­nec­tion and value by giv­ing them the oppor­tu­nity to visit their trees. Nudo has had about 40 adopters come over to Italy last year to visit their tree. At Texas Hill, they’ve had sev­eral fam­i­lies bring their chil­dren and take pic­tures of them next to their trees, with an aver­age of about one fam­ily per week com­ing to the farm to either visit their tree or choose one to adopt.

Whether over five years or a few months, each of these adopt an olive pro­grams have seen a growth in new mem­bers, as well as more peo­ple renew­ing year after year. As more peo­ple desire to feel a stronger con­nec­tion to what they are
eat­ing and to ensure the qual­ity of the food they are putting into their mouths,
adopt an olive tree pro­grams are sure to keep grow­ing.


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