Award-Winning Olive Grower Becomes a Role Model for Young Farmers

Danijala Lalin hopes to use her success at the NYIOOC to build an agricultural brand and inspire other young farmers to do the same.

Danijala Lalin
By Nedjeljko Jusup
May. 18, 2022 14:22 UTC
Danijala Lalin

After win­ning the cham­pi­onship for two con­sec­u­tive years at the local young pro­duc­ers’ com­pe­ti­tion in Mašković Han, Danijala Lalin from Pakoštane, Dalmatia, decided to enter the 2022 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Since this is the world’s largest review of the best oils, our expec­ta­tions were not high,” she said.

I think it is impor­tant to have a goal and not give up. It took a long time.- Danijala Lalin, co-owner, OPG Lalin

However, her results at the com­pe­ti­tion exceeded her expec­ta­tions as her fam­ily farm earned a Gold Award for its Dalma Oleum Premium brand, a medium Levantinka.

Being among the best in the com­pe­ti­tion of 1,244 oils from 28 coun­tries is a great achieve­ment,” Lalin told Olive Oil Times.

See Also:Producer Profiles

She pointed out that this is a joint suc­cess of the Lalin fam­ily farm, espe­cially her father, Vinko, oth­er­wise a suc­cess­ful man­ager, who planted the first olives as a hobby in 1992. Today, Lalin’s whole fam­ily, includ­ing her mother, Zdenka, and her brother, Marco, work on the farm.


Vinko and Danijala Lalin

At sev­eral loca­tions along Vrana Lake, the largest lake in Croatia, OPG Lalin has 300 trees, 180 of which are in full bloom. Indigenous vari­eties Oblica (70 per­cent) and Levantinka (15 per­cent) pre­dom­i­nate, with some imported vari­eties such as Leccino, Ascolana Tenera and Pendolino.

Lalin said the fam­ily decided to sub­mit their Levantinka mono­va­ri­etal because the olives had been har­vested at the per­fect time.

My father and I stayed in the olive groves every day so that we would­n’t miss the opti­mal’ time for the har­vest,” she said.

Due to cli­matic con­di­tions, every­thing was delayed, so they decided to start the first har­vest on October 12. Two days later, they picked the Levantinka olives, when the ratio of fruiti­ness and spici­ness in the fruit was most pro­nounced.

The freshly-picked fruits, as usual, were processed in the Nadin Oil Mill, owned by Željko Vrsaljko, who is also an award-win­ning olive grower. Two days later, on October 16, the har­vest was com­pleted.

The fam­ily har­vested about 9,000 kilo­grams of fruit and pro­duced about 1,300 kilo­grams of oil, which is more than a good result com­pared to last sea­son. Due to sev­eral unfa­vor­able cir­cum­stances, the olive yield in Croatia was reduced by an aver­age of 50 to 70 per­cent.

The Lalin fam­ily par­tially attrib­uted their suc­cess to pro­vid­ing the trees with proper nutri­tion and pro­tec­tion while water­ing them sev­eral times dur­ing the dry sum­mer with water from Vrana Lake.

Without irri­ga­tion, there is no suc­cess,” Lalin said.

Along with grow­ing olives, she is also a teacher at a local kinder­garten and the owner of the Dalma Oleum sou­venir shop.

In addi­tion to oils in var­i­ous pack­ages of vary­ing sizes, and olive oils infused with gar­lic, rose­mary and chili, the sou­venir shop offers its own brandies, liqueurs and tra­di­tional dessert wine, Prošek, as well as local prod­ucts from other fam­ily farms.

See Also:Best Olive Oils From Croatia

Lalin did not hide her plea­sure in win­ning at the NYIOOC, but she said she could always do even bet­ter.

We are expand­ing pro­duc­tion,” she said. We will con­tinue to raise new plan­ta­tions. We have already received praise for the new design.”

Lalin said she wants to cre­ate a local brand that will be rec­og­niz­able in the near future.

We started with the oil, and we will con­tinue with the new design of olive oil boxes,” she said.

Along with their extra vir­gin olive oil, the fam­ily is prepar­ing new labels for home-made liqueurs and brandies (made from herbs, grapes, figs, wal­nuts, carob, cher­ries), intro­duc­ing new prod­ucts (teas, spices, almonds in sugar, dried figs, mar­malades) and cre­at­ing gift pack­ages.

The family’s goal is to begin build­ing up an online pres­ence, focus­ing more on e‑commerce and brand­ing on social media.

It is a long process because if you want to do some­thing well, then it should be of good qual­ity, and you should have time for that,” Lalin said. Since I still work as a kinder­garten teacher, I think it is impor­tant to have a goal and not give up. It took a long time.”


After win­ning the award with many other Dalmatian pro­duc­ers at the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion, Lalin has become a role model for other young olive grow­ers in Pakoštane.

There are already more than 150,000 olive trees in the munic­i­pal­ity of Pakoštane, and most of the 1,700 fam­i­lies liv­ing here own at least some olive trees. Other local pro­duc­ers, includ­ing Ante Vulin, also earned a Gold Award at the NYIOOC.

There will be more,” Lalin said. Pakoštane is well-suited for tourism and agri­cul­ture. The city is located in the cen­ter of the 1,000-kilometer-long Adriatic coast and is ide­ally posi­tioned between the Adriatic Sea and Lake Vrana.

Pakoštane is sur­rounded by four Croatian national parks (Kornati, Krka, Paklenica and Plitvice Lakes) and two nat­ural parks (Telašćica and Vrana Lake). The soil and cli­mate are ideal for the pro­duc­tion of all Mediterranean spe­cial­ties, espe­cially olives.

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