` Evo3 Supports Reforestation Projects in Africa - Olive Oil Times

Evo3 Supports Reforestation Projects in Africa

Aug. 25, 2015
Lisa Radinovsky

Recent News

Stratis Camatsos is not afraid to swim against the tide. Born in Mississippi to Greek par­ents, he told Olive Oil Times that he moved to Greece with his fam­ily when he was twelve, headed to the UK and the USA to com­plete his edu­ca­tion, worked as an attor­ney in the US and Europe, and then returned to Greece again in 2013, in the mid­dle of the eco­nomic cri­sis.

He returned to launch evo3, which pro­duces and exports award-win­ning extra vir­gin organic olive oil (the 3 Os). Along with his father, George, Camatsos quickly turned a small fam­ily busi­ness into a unique social enter­prise that sup­ports refor­esta­tion projects in Africa, works with a women’s coop­er­a­tive in Lesbos to pro­duce an unusual sweet olive jam, and plans to use aug­mented real­ity for afford­able mar­ket­ing.

The cir­cle of life begins and ends with trees.- Evo3

Camatsos fondly remem­bers sum­mers in Lesbos dur­ing his child­hood, when he wan­dered through his grandfather’s olive groves and vis­ited the olive mill with his father, lis­ten­ing and observ­ing, struck by the smell of fresh olive oil. His father revived the family’s 10,000 neglected olive trees after he moved back to Lesbos, turn­ing to an EU sub­sidy for organic farm­ing to sup­port his renewed efforts.

Later, Stratis Camatsos and his Hungarian wife Gyorgyi Gurban, an envi­ron­men­tal law expert now work­ing for the United Nations Environment Programme in Athens, came up with the idea of using some of the pro­ceeds from olive oil sales to sup­port an envi­ron­men­tal­ist project. Camatsos explained, I’m really pas­sion­ate about the envi­ron­ment, and I wanted to give some­thing back. At least leave the world as you found it, if not bet­ter — that should be the aim of every per­son. That’s what I’m striv­ing to do.” The result: for every bot­tle of evo3 olive oil or jam sold, a tree is planted in a defor­ested area.

Camatsos chose to sup­port refor­esta­tion because the whole cycle of our prod­uct starts with the tree, ends with the tree.” He tried to find an NGO to work with in Greece, since many burned areas needed replant­ing, but high costs and red tape got in the way. Since he was just get­ting started with evo3, he could not con­tribute as much as NGOs needed for refor­esta­tion projects in Greece. But in the US, he found Eden Reforestation, a well-estab­lished NGO with projects already under­way in Ethiopia and Madagascar. They were glad to accept any fund­ing they could get, and Camatsos was pleased to learn that their projects went beyond the tree-plant­ing that spurred a regrowth of ecosys­tems to also sup­port the local economies: local work­ers were hired and trained to plant trees and care for them, inject­ing money into impov­er­ished vil­lages as well as improv­ing the soil qual­ity so crops could be grown for use and sale. New income led to less child labor and human traf­fick­ing, as well as new vil­lage schools. This is just what Camatsos was look­ing for: It encap­su­lates the social enter­prise,” as he put it, and gives back to both peo­ple and the envi­ron­ment.

Advertisement

Back in Greece, Camatsos and his wife exper­i­mented with their own new recipes for a sweet olive jam. They turned to a small women’s coop­er­a­tive in the vil­lage of Parakila in Lesbos, where the women were happy to fine tune the recipe, sub­sti­tut­ing organic green olives for black ones for an even bet­ter result. Camatsos said work­ing with the coop­er­a­tive makes the [product’s] cycle even more local and sus­tain­able.” Free of arti­fi­cial addi­tives and preser­v­a­tives, the jam has the tex­ture of finely chopped olives, their taste barely dis­cernible in a mix­ture more defined by the orange peel, cloves, lemon juice, and brown sugar in this nicely sweet and spicy spread, which is very good on toast.

Evo3 exports 90 per­cent of its annual seven to ten met­ric tons of organic extra vir­gin olive oil to Europe and North America. Camatsos was trou­bled by a com­plete lack of new orders and a stale­mate in nego­ti­a­tions with new cus­tomers dur­ing the three weeks banks were closed in Greece. A bank account in Belgium that he had opened when he lived there helped his busi­ness con­tinue, and orders resumed once the lat­est loan agree­ment was signed by Greece and its cred­i­tors. But Camatsos crit­i­cizes the Greek gov­ern­ment for its lack of sup­port for the olive oil indus­try and espe­cially for small and medium enter­prises. The high taxes and exces­sive bureau­cracy make it dif­fi­cult, he said, to do busi­ness here. He con­tends that Greek olive oil pro­duc­ers need to unify, the gov­ern­ment must help with qual­ity cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, and the coun­try should focus on pro­duc­ing high-qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil that con­sumers learn to value enough to pay the higher prices it deserves.

Camatsos has an inno­v­a­tive idea for small olive oil busi­nesses that can’t afford to hire mar­ket­ing firms but need to con­vince con­sumers to value their prod­ucts: use aug­mented real­ity, an app and a ser­vice that could give small pro­duc­ers a foothold via a more enhanced and immersed user expe­ri­ence.” An app could be designed so a tablet or smart­phone pointed at a par­tic­u­lar point could launch the user into an aug­mented real­ity expe­ri­ence that would come to life and tell you a story” about the prod­uct. The story could be con­veyed through a sim­ple video or some­thing more com­plex that would allow the user a 360-degree panoramic view of an olive grove, for exam­ple, or an African vil­lage that could be explored as the phone was rotated by the user. Although this has never been done in Greece, as far as he knows, Camatsos sug­gested that this is the future of mar­ket­ing, espe­cially when tar­get­ing mil­len­ni­als. He believes the more a con­sumer can expe­ri­ence an item in the store,” the stronger the con­nec­tion will be between the pro­ducer and the con­sumer.

And that’s not all. Focusing on trans­parency, trust, envi­ron­men­tal­ism, and high qual­ity, Camatsos plans to expand evo3 to hire more sea­sonal work­ers, export to more loca­tions, pro­duce salad dress­ings fea­tur­ing Mediterranean fla­vors, and sup­port more green projects in Greece (per­haps another refor­esta­tion project in the moun­tains around Athens, or work with the Atenistas NGO, which bright­ens impov­er­ished urban areas by mak­ing them greener).

Although the com­pany was just founded in 2013, evo3 has already won a Bronze Award for brand­ing at the Elaiotechnia olive oil com­pe­ti­tion in Athens and a Silver Award in the New York International Olive Oil Competition in 2014, plus the Diplome Produit Gourmet award at the World Edible Oils AVPA Paris Contest and a Great Taste Award at the gourmet com­pe­ti­tion in the UK this year. According to their web­site, the cir­cle of life begins and ends with trees. Our aim is tak­ing oil to the soil / Organic for you, (r)evolutionary for the good of all mankind.”


Related News

Feedback / Suggestions