Our namesake is the Perty pass, located in a lateral valley of the Mont Ventoux, practically at the source of the Ouvèze river, which flows into the Rhône nearby Avignon. Due to the mildness of the south and the austere climate of the southern pre-Alps, the area is very favorable for our two main agricultural activities, olive growing and bee keeping. The secret of the success of the black olives AOP from Nyons comes from the extraordinary sunshine (more than 2,700 hours per year) as well as the brightness of the sky and the clear, dry air, especially in winter. If you then add the fact that we have almost no mistral or fog, you can well imagine why people also appreciate the local climate. Our valley begins with olives at an altitude of 300 meters and ends with our bees on the summit of the Chamouse Mountain at 1,500 meters. This topography provides the bees with a variety of nectar and pollen sources, during a very long flowering period that lasts from May to August. The lack of intensive agriculture is a stroke of luck for the production of honey from lavender, Provençal garrigue or thyme.
Growing olives complements perfectly the apiary. In spring and summer, we focus on bees and honey, and in winter we care more about olives. For us, these two activities are not aimed at gaining maximum yields, instead we strive for a resource- and nature-friendly approach. We follow the principles of a circular economy. For instance, after the olive harvest, we use the pomace of the oil mill as fertilizer and chop the branches and the wood of the annual pruning into mulch, which we spread under the trees. Also, we recycle the beeswax from old honeycombs after the harvest in order to produce all the new frames that are necessary for the next season by ourselves. The fact that the olive trees are relatively easy to care for and that we do not use any phytosanitary products saves us a lot of time. With regard to beekeeping, we aim to preserve the species in line with animal welfare and to ensure a sustainable operation of the apiary. To respect nature through minimal invasive care taking gives everyone a great joy, both from the perspective of the Farmer as well as of the CrowdFarmer.
We harvest the olives from late November to early January. Traditionally, the olive harvest is done manually. During winter we usually face cold weather and often a blue sky: we start with freezing temperatures in the morning, around noon we are in a T-shirt enjoying the sun and the day finishes at cool dusk around 5 p.m. The harvest is carried out with the help of ladders, so that the picker can reach the highest branches. The picker gathers the olives in a basket or jute sack worn around the neck or the waist. A capable worker can pick about 8 kilos of olives an hour. Nowadays the olive harvest is increasingly carried out with a manual or electric comb. This requires to place a net on the ground around the tree trunk to collect the olives. The olive branches are "combed" so that the olives fall down in the net, where they are gathered before being placed in boxes. Within the same day, they are freed from leaves, olive stems and damaged fruits and then placed in a brine with a 10% salinity. This process is necessary to remove the bitterness of the olives and to preserve them. Finally, the olives mature in large barrels at a cool place for one year at least before they are processed in a specialised workshop (Saveurs du Soleil de Nyons). There, they are first pitted, then ground to a fine paste which is filled into jars that are sealed airtight. Finally, the jars are placed in an autoclave (a kind of mega pressure cooker) to be sterilised. This ensures that the olive paste or tapenade jars remain stable for a longer period (three years).