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

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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.”

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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.”


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