`Cyprus Celebrates the Olive Tree - Olive Oil Times

Cyprus Celebrates the Olive Tree

Oct. 24, 2012
Marissa Tejada

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Olive trees in Cyprus

On the out­skirts of Cyprus’ charm­ing and his­toric vil­lage of Anogyra, Cypriots set aside one day out of the year to cel­e­brate the olive tree.

Cypriots drove in from all over the coun­try to join the town’s two hun­dred res­i­dents at the Oleastro Olive Park and olive oil pro­duc­tion cen­ter. The small white­washed build­ing and prop­erty is thirty min­utes out­side of the west­ern Cypriot city of Limassol and it over­looks a vast, beau­ti­ful and rocky land­scape dot­ted with olive trees.

Oleastro is known for its small olive oil museum and edu­ca­tional park which dis­plays the var­i­ous vari­eties of Cypriot olive trees and tra­di­tional olive oil pro­duc­tion equip­ment. It has become a town land­mark since it opened in 2003 and for the past four years it has been the site of the Olive Tree Day Festival.

We had the vision for this park and for this fes­ti­val to bring the coun­try even closer to the olive tree which plays a cen­tral role in our lives, says Lina Ellina, founder of Oleastro Olive Oil, an award-win­ning organic extra-vir­gin olive oil. Oleastro orga­nized the first Olive Tree Day Festival in 2009.

The event fea­tured a Cypriot food buf­fet, food tast­ings, tra­di­tional Cypriot danc­ing and live music. Chefs demon­strated their skills while incor­po­rat­ing olive oil into their recipes. Traditional savory pies made with olive oil and olives called, elio­pi­tas, were given to atten­dees at the entrance. Various exhibits edu­cated chil­dren about the olive oil indus­try.

Here our chil­dren famil­iar­ize them­selves with the his­tory, cul­ture and impor­tance of olive oil to Cyprus and that’s a big rea­son I believe it’s a great suc­cess,” added Ellina.

Cypriot olive oil pro­ducer Lina Ellina

Sophocles Aletraris, the Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources of Cyprus says he has been a sup­porter of Olive Tree Day and spoke at the event. The tree with its pres­ence, con­tributes to the preser­va­tion of the nat­ural envi­ron­ment and a link to our rich cul­tural her­itage. The olive tree, syn­ony­mous with the Mediterranean and its cul­ture, is a sym­bol of peace and wis­dom. Cypriots have been pro­duc­ing olive prod­ucts from antiq­uity and they play an impor­tant role in our diet and daily life, as part of var­i­ous cul­tural and reli­gious events and daily activ­ity,” said Aletraris.

Aletraris also pointed out that Olive Tree Day exem­pli­fies the impor­tance of olive oil to the country’s econ­omy and that olive oil com­prises of the largest por­tion of organic farm­ing in Cyprus. In an era char­ac­ter­ized by strong com­pe­ti­tion, the pro­mo­tion of agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion in our coun­try and ensur­ing qual­ity are of prime impor­tance. With the diver­si­fi­ca­tion of pro­duc­tion, sen­sory eval­u­a­tion of olive oil and olive prod­ucts stan­dard­iza­tion, Cyprus is pro­vid­ing a sig­nif­i­cant com­pet­i­tive advan­tage to pro­duc­ers.”

Cyprus Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources Sophocles Aletraris

The total area in Cyprus under olive cul­ti­va­tion today is about 8,000 hectares with approx­i­mately 2.5 mil­lion pro­duc­tive trees.

Every coun­try that pro­duces its own olive oil has its own dis­tinct fla­vors. What I think is impor­tant is how the trees are cul­ti­vated and how the olives are pressed,” said Ellina who added she is the first Cypriot pro­ducer to offer olive oil that is unfil­tered and cold-pressed. Olive Tree Day is meant to send a mes­sage that we under­stand the value it brings to Cyprus and, as an exporter of Cypriot olive oil, I am rep­re­sent­ing the qual­ity we are capa­ble of.”


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