Over the course of four generations, we have been growing our Koroneiki variety olive trees in the small mountain village Plouti. We are a small family business and although we all have chosen different paths professionally, we are connected through the love and passion for organic and sustainable olive oil production and creating a direct connection between us and our CrowdFarmers. As of 2008 we exclusively produce organic olive oil according to European regulations. Up until our 2020 batch we sold our olive oil to wholesalers. We were keen to change that and begin a direct relationship between consumers and farmers. As of 2022 we are also a part of the CrowdFarming Community.
Plouti lies in the Southeast of Crete in the Messara region, about 350m above sea level. The small mountain village has a population of less than 100 people. However, over the past 15 years a generational change has taken place and more and more young farmers have taken over from their parents and grandparents and also switched to organic farming. The vast majority of olives and grapes produced in Plouti are of organic production. Regardless, sometimes it feels like time has stood still in Plouti. Every day after working the fields and on the weekend, people meet in the “Kafenion”, where you can enjoy greek coffee and other delicacies from the Cretan cuisine. The Kafeneion offers a platform to share news and updates on the production and farming, but current affairs are always mentioned too. A visit to our olive groves in Plouti would not be complete without visiting the Kafeneio.
Exploring the Messera region is also highly recommended. Hiking through olive groves and vineyards, the Psiloritis mountain, birthplace of god Zeus according to Greek mythology, is always in view. In spring the area is full of colorful wildflowers. Messara’s fauna is quite shy but if you are lucky you may see a rabbit or a badger. In the summertime, lizards lay on the hot stones and it is impossible to miss the cicadas’ mating song. If you take a closer look while walking through the fields, you may also be lucky enough to find some pottery from the Minoan times, which shows that Messara has been inhabited through the centuries.
Our 1.491 olive trees produce olives of the Koroneiki variety, which is perfect for the Mediterranean climate, with hot summers and mild winters. Regardless, we water our olive trees frequently to boost the produce and the trees themselves. We use a drip irrigation system and choose to water during the night or early in the morning to minimise losses due to the heat. We make sure to give each tree 7 meters distance from their neighboring tree in order to offer them the best growth options possible. In addition to that, our olive trees are pruned every three years to strengthen them and keep them neat and healthy. Some of our trees are more than 100 years old.
Every year from late October till early December, we keep a close eye on the ripening stage of our olives to identify the best time to harvest. We exclusively harvest manually and during the day, with the assistance of harvest helpers from around the region. On the same day of harvest, the olives are transferred to local oil mills and fresh olive oil is cold extracted.
Apart from our olive trees we also grow sage and other herbs in our fields. They are highly appreciated by the bees. As of 2008 we exclusively produce organic olive oil according to European regulations, which excludes the use of chemical pesticides. To cope with pests such as the olive fruit fly *(Dacus oleae)*, we use natural traps. We also use organic fertiliser. From time to time, a herd of sheep makes its way through our olive groves and leaves its organic presents behind. Weeds are removed once a year as well and are left in the field as organic fertiliser as well.
We are a small family business and currently two generations of our family are involved in it. Three siblings and our parents, in 2020 we embarked on the journey of starting our own business. And even though we have known each other all our lives we had to get used to our new roles within the business. After two years at it we can proudly say we work well together and aspire to get better every year. We already have a few ideas how to build on the foundations we lay and are thinking about expanding to other parts of the supply chain as well. For the time being, we carefully choose our partners locally and trust in their long experience in olive oil production.