In the mountainous region of Aragon, Spain, sits a village with roots going back millennia. Three hundred years before Christ, Iberians were cultivating olives on these slopes. But the story of this ancient village is not about the past, but rather the future.
A group of young, dynamic entrepreneurs, a few with local roots, have begun a project to revitalize the olive industry and the village of Oliete itself. The project is ambitious in scope but fairly simple in implementation. Participants are invited to adopt an olive tree, which is tagged and named for them. Adoptees can keep up with their investment through an app available for iOS or Android, with photos of the their tree, specific updates, news on the project as a whole, and other relevant information. More importantly contributors receive two litres of high quality, cold pressed oil from the adopted trees, the cost of which, with shipping, is included in the adoption.
Some of the trees are hundreds of years old and the fields they occupy pretty much surround the picturesque village for as far as the eye can see. The olives they produce are small and dark, with a rich nutty flavor when cured. Importantly to the creators of the initiative, the Oliete project uses ecological processes designed to reduce carbon footprint at every step of the way that they can control. The oil made from the olives is of a very high quality, and quite flavourful.
As this model is successfully tested, and the bugs worked out, the idea is to take it to similar spaces where local agriculture has been decimated by large corporate production and population flight. The general idea is to craft a cultivation process from tree to table that is rooted and accountable to ideas of sustainability and organic farming, that creates a win win for each person and community along the way.
As more people adopt a tree at Oliete, jobs are created and the village reaps the largesse, the vast groves of trees that have been abandoned are reclaimed and cultivated, and a high quality, sustainable product and process are established.
The project is answering the question, “What kind of world do we want to live in?” From where and how do we want our food to come to us as well as what quality of food is it? These entrepreneurs and the contributors participating with them are developing answers to these pressing questions. Ideally this model and similar concepts will spread to other food stuffs as well, revitalising the way we eat and live.
Oliete, of course, has roots in the past but it’s a story that exemplifies exactly where we are in our world right now and where we are going tomorrow. It is much more than a remote village in Aragon, but the neighbourhood we all live in. Its daily activity, while coming to us from the remote past, is leading to a sustainable and better future.