In Croatia, Students Join Award-Winning Farm for Olive Harvest

Students from Zagreb also learned about the milling process. The oil they helped produce will be submitted to the 2023 NYIOOC.
Oct. 26, 2022
Nedjeljko Jusup

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Eighty stu­dents from the Matija Gubec inter­na­tional pri­mary school in Zagreb, the Croatian cap­i­tal, vis­ited a Dalmatian olive grove to par­tic­i­pate in the har­vest and learn about olive oil pro­duc­tion.

The stu­dents of the pres­ti­gious inter­na­tional school, attended by the chil­dren of ambas­sadors, diplo­mats, gov­ern­ment offi­cials, promi­nent ath­letes and busi­ness peo­ple from abroad, trav­eled 330 kilo­me­ters south to the olive groves of 40-year-old Krešimir Uroda near Pirovac.

The chil­dren helped har­vest the olives by hand before trav­el­ing to the Sveti Ante mill in nearby Vodice to learn how olives are trans­formed into olive oil.

I am extremely hon­ored that my olive grove was cho­sen for this occa­sion,” Uroda said with sat­is­fac­tion.

See Also:Officials Congratulate Regional NYIOOC Winners at Ceremony in Split

Among [the stu­dents are] the two chil­dren of ten­nis player Goran Ivanišević, the daugh­ter of for­mer inter­na­tional [asso­ci­a­tion] foot­ball player Boško Balaban, and the son of the famous singer Severina Vučković,” he added.

Uroda’s olive grove was planted 12 years ago by his father, Ante Uroda. After leav­ing Čakovec, the north­ern­most Croatian city, where he started a fam­ily and spent his entire work­ing life, he returned to his ances­tral home.

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Something kept pulling him back to his home­land,” Uroda said, who spent every sum­mer with his par­ents in Pirovac, 428 kilo­me­ters away from Čakovec. I fell in love with this area.”

Uroda helped his father plant and grow the olive trees. However, he con­tin­ued to work as an IT spe­cial­ist for Elektra in Čakovec until 2017, when his father fell seri­ously ill and urged him to return to the olive farm in Pirovac, or he would have to sell it.

As a result, Uroda requested a trans­fer to Elektra’s offices in Sibenik, Dalmatia. I made it. But, unfor­tu­nately, my father was over­come by a seri­ous, incur­able dis­ease and died at the age of 68,” he said.

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Remembering his father’s words, Uroda con­tin­ued in his foot­steps, ded­i­cat­ing his free time to olive grow­ing and soon started pro­duc­ing extra vir­gin olive oil.

He received his first recog­ni­tion four years ago at a local com­pe­ti­tion in Vodice, where he won a gold medal. He won another two years later.

Last year, he earned a Gold Award at the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, the world’s largest olive oil qual­ity com­pe­ti­tion.

When the vis­it­ing stu­dents asked him how win­ning the award felt, Uroda responded: Incredible. It’s like win­ning the UEFA Champions League or climb­ing Mount Everest.”

The har­vest is under­way in his dry­wall-sur­rounded olive grove, which boasts 354 Oblica, Lastovka and Leccina trees. Uroda expects to har­vest about two tons of fruit, yield­ing about 450 to 500 liters of oil.

Taking advan­tage of the scenic loca­tion of his olive grove, Uroda has also built a guest house for tourists.

We built it for our­selves, for the fam­ily, and then, two years ago, when we received the nec­es­sary approvals, we offered it to tourists through Airbnb,” he said. The response was beyond expec­ta­tions.”

Uroda said guests had been delighted, adding they are attracted by the olive grove, the prox­im­ity to the sea and the untouched wilder­ness around Pirovac. Some guests even vol­un­teer to help with the har­vest.

In the first year, OPG Uroda booked 75 overnight stays and received the pres­ti­gious Superhost title, awarded to the plat­for­m’s best-per­form­ing prop­er­ties. This year, the num­ber of guests has dou­bled, and the sea­son is still going.

In addi­tion to the stay, we allow our guests to taste and buy our oil,” Uroda said. Not a sin­gle pair of guests have left with­out oil.”

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Kresimira Urode (left)

As the har­vest con­tin­ues, Uroda said his oils would start enter­ing restau­rants and hotels. He also plans on sell­ing them through an e‑commerce plat­form. I believe that our busi­ness in olive grow­ing will only go for­ward,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the olive groves, the stu­dents and local work­ers man­aged to har­vest 350 kilo­grams of olives by hand before going to the mill to watch the trans­for­ma­tion process.

Tomislav Duvnjak, an award-win­ning pro­ducer, runs the mill and was very sat­is­fied with the inter­est the stu­dents showed in the process.

I believe that peo­ple should be edu­cated from a young age,” he said. Until now, ele­men­tary school stu­dents have come to us, even from kinder­gartens in Vodice and neigh­bor­ing towns. This is the first time from Zagreb.”

After observ­ing the entirety of the milling process, the stu­dents received a bot­tle of freshly-pro­duced extra vir­gin olive oil to take home.

Uroda also used the moment to announce his plans to enter the 2023 NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition with the same batch.

This is a won­der­ful exam­ple of how to build olive cul­ture,” added Ivica Vlatković, an award-win­ning pro­ducer and pres­i­dent of the Zadar County Olive Growers Association, who was also in atten­dance.



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