Producers Behind Loco Galbasa Achieve Childhood Dream, World-Class Quality

The Sicilian brand Loco Galbasa combines the pursuit of quality and the commitment to environmental sustainability.
Marco Gagliano (left) and Sandro Domenico Musso at Loco Galbasa farmhouse
By Ylenia Granitto
Nov. 27, 2023 18:05 UTC

Loco Galbasa is a young brand that rep­re­sents the ful­fill­ment of a dream long pur­sued.

In a cor­ner of Western Sicily nes­tled between the moun­tains and the sea, the two cousins, Marco Gagliano and Sandro Domenico Musso, cre­ated the qual­ity-ori­ented project named after the coun­try dis­trict Galbasa in the vil­lage of Villafranca Sicula, where they organ­i­cally pro­duce the name­sake Biancolilla mono­va­ri­etal.

Quality can­not be an end in itself and (leads) us to have an eth­i­cal approach to run­ning our com­pany. Indeed, we farm­ers can play a key role in address­ing the impacts of cli­mate change with proper soil man­age­ment.- Sandro Domenico Musso, co-owner, Loco Galbasa

It all started with my great-grand­fa­ther,” Musso told Olive Oil Times. He had migrated to the United States, and when he returned, he pur­chased some land with the sav­ings of sev­eral years of work and sac­ri­fice. He recov­ered the olive trees, which the pre­vi­ous own­ers had aban­doned, and in the early 1960s, my grand­fa­ther and great-uncle founded the com­pany.”

Over time, the estate has been expanded and now includes 20 hectares of ancient olive groves, at the heart of which lies a farm­house dat­ing back to 1860, now under ren­o­va­tion.

See Also:Producer Profiles

When Marco and I were kids, we fan­ta­sized about work­ing on this land together one day and sell­ing our own pro­duce,” he said. When I took over the man­age­ment, we could finally real­ize our child­hood dream.”

Gagliano echoed Musso’s sen­ti­ments: I remem­ber those chats dur­ing bar­be­cues at night in our teens about how to run our future busi­ness on this beloved land. Today, the results and sat­is­fac­tion obtained with our extra vir­gin olive oil are indeed a life­time dream come true.”

After some years of improve­ments and exper­i­men­ta­tion, they estab­lished the com­pany. As they launched their first prod­uct on the mar­ket, they also par­tic­i­pated in the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition.

Attending this world-renowned com­pe­ti­tion helped us show­case our com­pany to a wider audi­ence,” said Gagliano, who is in charge of mar­ket­ing. Receiving an award at the NYIOOC is a great call­ing card that makes us rec­og­niz­able and gives a qual­ity guar­an­tee to those seek­ing infor­ma­tion on our prod­uct, espe­cially since we started to sell it in the United States too.”

The organic mono­va­ri­etal Galbasa orig­i­nates from rolling hills at alti­tudes of 400 to 450 meters, where the olive trees thrive next to Mediterranean fruit plants, such as pears, arbu­tuses, figs, mul­ber­ries, prickly pears and plums. A small oak for­est is also located on the estate, from which, on the clear­est days, one can even spot Pantelleria Island.


On a clear day, it is possible to see Pantelleria Island from Loco Galbasa’s groves on the coast of western Sicily. (Photo: Loco Galbasa)

Our groves are an inte­gral part of this beau­ti­ful land­scape,” Gagliano said. They over­look the val­ley where the Verdura River flows, which is stud­ded with a myr­iad of trees of Ribera orange all the way to the sea. Hence, we plan to launch a line of orange blos­som honey, which the bees present on the prop­erty will pro­duce.”

The Sicilian farm­ers have intro­duced pol­li­nat­ing insects to improve bio­di­ver­sity, a main­stay of the com­pa­ny’s vision. Several vari­eties com­pose the olive orchards, where the preva­lent Biancolilla is inter­spersed by the autochtho­nous Cerasuola, Giarraffa and Moresca vari­eties and neglected ones such as Murtiddara, Bottone di Gallo and Passulunara, for a total of almost 5,000 olive trees, most of which are cen­turies old.

With our world-class extra vir­gin olive oil, we suc­ceeded in giv­ing these plants the value they deserve,” Musso said. We have a spe­cial bond with them and with this ter­ri­tory that can still express so much as we strive to carry for­ward our entre­pre­neur­ial vision with a con­scious com­mit­ment and a for­ward-look­ing approach that leans on respect for them.”

Strong envi­ron­men­tal aware­ness has guided Gagliano and Musso in cre­at­ing the com­pany. It con­tin­ues to steer its busi­ness choices, includ­ing becom­ing a mem­ber of a pro­ducer orga­ni­za­tion that set up a cer­ti­fied eco-sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion process.


Deep roots of centuries old trees mean Loco Galbasa does not need to irrigate its organic groves. (Photo: Loco Galbasa)

The com­mit­ment to sus­tain­abil­ity is a mis­sion for our com­pany, which is expe­ri­enc­ing the cur­rent weather chal­lenges and wants to play its part in the global effort of mit­i­gat­ing the effects of the cli­mate cri­sis,” Gagliano said.

This year, they had to cope with sev­eral weather issues, start­ing from heavy rain in win­ter. This was fol­lowed by an unsta­ble but dry weather period when the olive trees needed more water. From the end of May to early June, there were large amounts of rain and not much wind, which is a non-ideal con­di­tion for pollen spread, caus­ing prob­lems for fruit set.


We had an extra­or­di­nary attack of olive pea­cock spot and also Cercospora leaf spot, the lat­ter not seen for at least 15 years in our olive grove, which were both favored by the humid cli­mate in the late spring,” said Musso, who over­sees the agro­nomic aspects of the farm. Then, the olives showed a delay in ripen­ing, which also occurred to the other crops of our farmer neigh­bors.”

These are all signs that tell us that qual­ity can­not be an end in itself and lead us to have an eth­i­cal approach to run­ning our com­pany,” he added. Indeed, we farm­ers can play a key role in address­ing the impacts of cli­mate change with proper soil man­age­ment, which also implies a ratio­nal use of resources.”


From its centennary trees, Loco Galbasa earned a Silver Award at the 2023 NYIOOC. (Photo: Loco Galbasa)

Thanks to their age, the olive trees all over the estate do not need irri­ga­tion. Furthermore, the farm­ers apply the tech­nique of green manure that helps to increase the organic con­tent and improve the struc­ture of the soil, which becomes more able to main­tain humid­ity – an ideal com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors that allows them to save both water and energy needed for irri­ga­tion.

We prac­tice grass­ing from fall until April,” Musso said. Then we mow, leave the bio­mass on the ground and in late spring, we incor­po­rate it in the soil with a super­fi­cial tillage with a disk or cut­ter. This is ben­e­fi­cial for the plants, which have arrived at this har­vest sea­son in good shape after some months of drought, with no sign of water stress.”


In October, they started to har­vest the olives, which were crushed in the lat­est gen­er­a­tion two-phase mill near the farm. While the state-of-the-art machin­ery allows them to bring out the best from the fruits, the short drive to deliver them to the facil­ity helps cut energy costs and car­bon emis­sions.

Our goal is to cre­ate a pre­mium prod­uct that expresses the pas­sion and val­ues on which it was founded,” Gagliano said. In our opin­ion, being eco-sus­tain­able can­not be any­thing but an eth­i­cal imper­a­tive and should be the essen­tial foun­da­tion for cur­rent and future qual­ity pro­duc­tions.”

Musso echoes him: Today, we aim at main­tain­ing a high qual­ity over time while con­tin­u­ing to improve our­selves, always tak­ing care of the ter­ri­tory where our pre­cious olive trees grow. We firmly believe that qual­ity can only come from a healthy land, and the results we are achiev­ing tell us that this is the right per­spec­tive to look at the future.”


Related Articles