`Cyprus Celebrates the Olive Tree

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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.

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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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