Meet the Pioneering Couple Who Introduced Olive Growing to One Greek Island

When Tassis and Rena Laskaridis settled in Lemnos 15 years ago, there were few olive trees around.
Ktima Olon (Photo: Nikos Karanikolas)
By Costas Vasilopoulos
Jul. 29, 2022 14:32 UTC

When Tassis and Rena Laskaridis relo­cated from Athens to the north­ern Aegean island of Lemnos in 2007, they were sur­prised by how few olive trees grew on the island.

Though they had no pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence in agri­cul­ture (Tassis was a retired archi­tect and Rena, a French teacher) they decided to use their land to start Lemnos’ first olive grove.

There were vir­tu­ally no olive trees on the island at the time, and we were curi­ous to see whether Lemnos could pro­duce qual­ity olive oil,” Rena told Olive Oil Times. We planted 300 olive trees, and the out­come was sur­pris­ingly sat­is­fy­ing.”

Today, the cou­ple pro­duces olive oil at the pri­vately-owned mill they built on Lemnos from hand-picked olives on their farm near the vil­lage of Kontias.

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We are expand­ing, and we cur­rently grow 1,850 olive trees at our Ktima Olon farm,” Laskaridis said. We pro­duce a pre­mium, early-har­vested and unfil­tered organic extra vir­gin olive oil.”

The har­vest is done by hand in October, and we process the olives within a few hours,” she added. The spe­cial­ized equip­ment we use deliv­ers a clear oil, free of impu­ri­ties, so there is no need to sub­mit it to fil­tra­tion.”

We mar­ket our oil in Greece, mainly Athens and Thessaloniki, and locally on the island,” she con­tin­ued. We also export to Finland and are cur­rently nego­ti­at­ing to start export­ing to France and the United Kingdom.”


Tassis and Rena Laskaridis

Laskaridis said the olive oil of Ktima Olon is high in polyphe­nols, bear­ing a health claim that meets the E.U. reg­u­la­tion 432/2012 require­ments.

The reg­u­la­tion spec­i­fies that olive oils con­tain­ing a cer­tain amount of polyphe­nols – at least 5 mil­ligrams per 20 grams of olive oil – can con­tribute to the pro­tec­tion of blood lipids from oxida­tive stress.

However, the far­m’s Throumbolia cul­ti­var, which the cou­ple used to com­ple­ment the Koroneiki, Adramytini and Manaki trees they had ini­tially planted, has proven to be a real game-changer.

The Throumbolia trees turned out to be very pro­duc­tive on Lemnos, equal to the Koroneiki trees,” Laskaridis said. The olives of this cul­ti­var con­tain 20 to 28 per­cent oil with excel­lent organolep­tic char­ac­ter­is­tics.”

Yiorgos Kostelenos, an agron­o­mist spe­cial­iz­ing in Greek olive vari­eties from the Peloponnese who sup­plied the Laskaridis cou­ple with the trees for their olive grove, said that Throumbolia is a promi­nent cul­ti­var, well-suited for the weather con­di­tions pre­vail­ing in the Aegean Sea.


The olive grove of Ktima Olon

Throumbolia is endemic to the islands of the Aegean,” Kostelenos told Olive Oil Times. The oil extracted from Throumbolia olives is rich in phe­no­lic com­pounds, espe­cially those that exist in lower quan­ti­ties in other cul­ti­vars such as the Oleokoronal.”

However, the olives of the vari­ety are prone to fruit fly infec­tion,” he added. Therefore, the strong Etesian winds that con­tin­u­ously buf­fet the islands of the arch­i­pel­ago cre­ate the per­fect habi­tat for Throumbolia trees because they keep the humid­ity lev­els low and pre­vent the pest from mul­ti­ply­ing.”

There is a 6,000-year-old Throumbolia tree in Naxos, right at the cen­ter of the Aegean Sea, which still bears fruit,” Kostelenos con­tin­ued.


Tassis Laskaridis with visitors at the mill

Having found solid ground in olive farm­ing, Ktima Olon has evolved into a fully-fledged agri­tourism estab­lish­ment accept­ing vis­i­tors look­ing to expe­ri­ence the allure of stay­ing on a farm and learn­ing about olive trees and olive oil.

Apart from olive trees, the own­ers grow var­i­ous other fruits and veg­eta­bles on their farm. They also keep a small num­ber of domes­tic ani­mals to obtain the milk for the tra­di­tional cheeses of Lemnos they pro­duce, the Melichloro and the Kalathaki.

Tassis and Rena Laskaridis advise their guests to add a cou­ple of table­spoons of the extra vir­gin olive oil of Ktima Olon to their meals to taste the oil’s fruity fla­vor and ben­e­fit from its nutri­tional prop­er­ties.

We rec­om­mend con­sum­ing it raw in the morn­ing, on sal­ads, or with boiled and grilled veg­eta­bles and roasted meat,” they said. The mildly bit­ter after­taste you may sense is the result of the low oil’s acid­ity, and a slight burn in your throat is caused by the ben­e­fi­cial com­pounds in our olive oil.”

The Laskaridis cou­ple’s suc­cess­ful olive oil ven­ture has also moti­vated other farm­ers on the island to switch to olive farm­ing. Rena Laskaridis esti­mated that around 70,000 olive trees are cur­rently cul­ti­vated on Lemnos.

We are excited to see Lemnos among the olive oil-pro­duc­ing ter­ri­to­ries of Greece,” the cou­ple con­cluded. Our dream is to be able to main­tain and improve [our farm] and at the same time enter the olive oil mar­kets more strongly.”


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