Titone Carry on Pioneering Legacy of Organic Farming on Sicily

From father to daughter, the award-winning producer continues following her father’s path of high-quality production and sustainability.

Antonella and Nicola Titone, who is holding his organic olive fruit fly trap.
By Ylenia Granitto
Nov. 14, 2022 17:15 UTC
607
Antonella and Nicola Titone, who is holding his organic olive fruit fly trap.

Nestled in the north­west cor­ner of Sicily, the Titone farm is caressed by winds blow­ing from the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Here, my grand­fa­ther, Nicolò cul­ti­vated Grillo and Catarratto grapes intended for the pro­duc­tion of Marsala wine,” Antonella Titone told Olive Oil Times. The orchard was grad­u­ally trans­formed from a vine­yard into an olive grove between the 1970s and 1990s.”

(My father) was my wing­man, and I miss his sup­port. It is all dif­fer­ent with­out him, but I strive to be his wor­thy suc­ces­sor.- Antonella Titone, owner, Titone farm

It was my father, Nicola, who planted the trees in a very ratio­nal way, with each row cor­re­spond­ing to a sin­gle vari­ety, to facil­i­tate the har­vest,” she added.

Widely con­sid­ered a pio­neer of organic olive farm­ing, Nicola Titone passed away last year. From that moment, Antonella has been com­mit­ted to hon­or­ing his teach­ing, con­tin­u­ing in his foot­steps of high-qual­ity olive oil pro­duc­tion while pur­su­ing sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture.

See Also:Producer Profiles

He was my wing­man, and I miss his sup­port,” she said. It is all dif­fer­ent with­out him, but I strive to be his wor­thy suc­ces­sor. At the begin­ning of this incred­i­ble jour­ney into the world of extra vir­gin olive oil, I was so naive.”

I did not know any­thing about the sec­tor, and my choice to flank my dad was a bit uncon­scious and unaware, dic­tated solely by my love for him,” Titone added. He involved me, sup­ported me and it has been 20 years since I started mak­ing olive oil.”

The Titone fam­ily have been phar­ma­cists for gen­er­a­tions.

Thanks to our back­ground, we have always been focused on pre­ven­ta­tive care, which can be pro­vided at the table and, before that, by keep­ing the envi­ron­ment clean,” she said. Also, the sci­en­tific stud­ies helped us have a research approach.”

profiles-the-best-olive-oils-production-europe-titone-carry-on-pioneering-legacy-of-organic-farming-on-sicily-olive-oil-times

Antonella Titone

Based on these premises, my father launched him­self into the chal­lenge of organic olive farm­ing, which was ground­break­ing at the time,” Titone added.

Her blend of Cerasuola and Biancolilla earned a Gold Award at the 2021 and 2022 edi­tions of the NYIOOC World Olive Oil Competition, the world’s pre­em­i­nent olive oil qual­ity awards.

Before the estab­lish­ment of the organic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and con­trol bod­ies, Nicola Titone started to imple­ment an envi­ron­men­tally friendly olive grove man­age­ment regime. Later, his com­pany was among the first in Italy to become cer­ti­fied organic.

He became known in the sec­tor for cre­at­ing a trap for the olive fruit fly, the sci­en­tific valid­ity of which was estab­lished by the University of Palermo’s agron­omy fac­ulty.

I should say that his break­through approach had already been seen in the phar­macy field,” Titone said. He was one of the first, in Marsala, in the early 1970s, to move his phar­macy from the city cen­ter to a sub­ur­ban area since he believed that the health treat­ments should be easy for all to reach.”

Then, he set up a mod­ern store­front with diet and cos­metic prod­ucts, not just med­i­cines, which at the time was an inno­va­tion,” she added. He was truly ahead of his time.”

profiles-the-best-olive-oils-production-europe-titone-carry-on-pioneering-legacy-of-organic-farming-on-sicily-olive-oil-times

Today, Titone man­ages a 19-hectare olive grove with 5,000 trees between Marsala and Trapani. Typical regional vari­eties, such as Cerasuola, Nocellara del Belice, Biancolilla and recently-planted Coratina, are inter­spersed by Frantoio trees as pol­li­na­tors.

We have equipped our orchards with an irri­ga­tion sys­tem, as many other nearby com­pa­nies did, and this helps us to pre­vent the plants from suf­fer­ing water stress,” she said. We were already accus­tomed to long peri­ods with­out rain, but they are becom­ing more severe and long-last­ing, requir­ing more atten­tion and work.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

Despite the drought and heat waves that affected Italy last sum­mer, these efforts in the grove have made it pos­si­ble to arrive to the har­vest sea­son with healthy olives, which have been pressed in the state-of-the-art com­pany mill.

We made the first impor­tant change to the milling tech­nol­ogy in 1999 when we intro­duced cut­ting-edge machin­ery,” Titone said. Now, we make peri­odic updates.”

Three years ago, we changed the crusher, sub­sti­tut­ing the discs with knives, and then we revamped the hatches of the malax­ers,” she added. We try to improve our­selves con­stantly, and I am deter­mined to fol­low this approach, enhanc­ing the com­pany struc­ture.”

profiles-the-best-olive-oils-production-europe-titone-carry-on-pioneering-legacy-of-organic-farming-on-sicily-olive-oil-times

This year, the har­vest started in early October and lasted for a month. Titone and her team col­lected Biancolilla olives first since they ripened first.

After, they har­vested the Cerasuola olives, which were picked by hand with the help of rakes. Then the Nocellara olives were picked exclu­sively by hand since they are extremely del­i­cate. Finally, Titone com­pleted the har­vest with the Coratina trees.

The care needed, espe­cially by some olive vari­eties, means a great com­mit­ment and very high costs,” she said. I can do this thanks to great team­work.”

My col­lab­o­ra­tors come from dif­fer­ent coun­tries and cul­tures besides Italy – Romania and the African coun­try of Mali,” Titone spec­i­fied. At the farm, we have a tra­di­tion: at the begin­ning of the har­vest, we call a priest to bless the com­pany and work­ers. Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims all pray together, liv­ing a joy­ful and mean­ing­ful moment of togeth­er­ness.”

This approach of hos­pi­tal­ity and love is a fur­ther way to con­tinue my father’s work,” she added. His is an impor­tant legacy that pushes me toward the future with­out ceas­ing to put his pre­cious teach­ings into prac­tice.”

Now, I have many ideas in the pipeline,” Titone con­cluded. I like to think about what can still be done, always on the path of qual­ity, which can­not be sep­a­rated by the sus­tain­able man­age­ment of our olive groves since the very future of all of us depends on it.”


Share this article

Advertisement
Advertisement

Related Articles