The initiative of a group of citizens in Brescia, a large northern Italian town, has brought on the harvest of many olive trees whose fruits had long be neglected.
It is the first time such an initiative has taken place in the city, where more than 50 different olive cultivars grow, randomly scattered among public and private properties.
In Villaggio Sereno, one of Brescia’s southern districts, the members of a local active citizenship group known as Community Point initially reached just a few families who own some of those trees. The goal of their initiative, which they called “Let’s put our olives together,” was to avoid wasting the many olives dotting the trees.See Also:Farms in Italy Welcome an Uptick in Agritourism as Challenging Harvest Gets Underway
“We just needed to avoid a waste of food. Many of those who own those trees did not harvest the fruits, which then were lost. So it all started, and from the 20 families initially interested, we got to 36. In October, thanks to four volunteers, we gathered the needed nets, fruit rakes, and patience,” Giorgio Baitini, a Community Point organizer, told local newspaper Giornale di Brescia.
“We thought we would have been collecting no more than 100 or 120 kilograms. Instead, we have harvested more than 9 quintals,” he added.
Olive oil mills located near the city have produced dozens of liters of extra virgin olive oil from the olives harvested. Given the source of the olives, Community Point named the product “Olio Sereno” (“happy olive oil” in Italian), noting that it should also be considered a Denomination of Social Origin (DSO) product.
According to Baitini, unlike the EU-certified PDOs (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGIs (Protected Geographical Indication), the unofficial designation fits the true nature of the initiative.
“It is an example of how joining forces enables the community to solve its problems, to restore what would have otherwise ended up going to waste. It is a solid definition [for the oil], and it is good to eat, and a way to give value to our courtyards and gardens,” Baitini noted.
The local community later gathered at a public “Bruschettata” event organized by Community Point to taste the oil in traditional olive oil bruschetta, a toasted bread slice garnished with the newly milled olive oil.
The olive oil produced by the volunteers has now been divided among them, the owners of the trees, and the “Let’s be family” initiative of the Caritas charity organization.
The Olio Sereno initiative built on the strong connection between Brescia and olive oil making. The city borders a large region in the Lake Garda area where olive oil production is growing and where some of the most valuable Italian EVOOs are made.