Our farming methods
The basis for healthy trees is taking care of the earth where the trees are growing. We have decided that our farming methods must not only protect the soil and its natural flora and fauna, but also replenish it and diversify it.
Our first step was to start mulching the olive branches and twigs after pruning. In this way we avoid burning these branches, which is the widespread custom and which releases unnecessary CO2 to the atmosphere. The mulched branches and leaves create a protective layer on the soil, which participates in bettering the quality of the soil. By decomposing they add natural fertilizer to the soil and the trees and also improve the soil’s humidity, allowing us to water them less in the hot summer months.
Similarly we contribute to the improvement of the soil (stable humus) by not weeding our groves. This technique is in fact a natural process that curbs erosion and has proved beneficial for the development of favorable microorganisms, contributing to an integrated weed control.
In the Fall and Winter months clover grows profusely between the olive trees making the groves very green. This bed of clover, rich in nitrogen is cut and left on the ground. The available nitrogen is then released by the clover contributing to strengthen the olive trees.
Since 2016, we have also re-introduced animals in our olive groves. We started with sheep and plan to continue and diversify by adding chicken as well.
On our way to becoming 100% organic, we are testing different natural farming methods for our olive trees.
We protect our olive trees against the olive fly in a natural way with products that have been approved by the EEC.
In 2013 we decided to build our own olive fly traps recycling old plastic water bottles which are hung in the trees with a mixture of ammonia and water. These traps efficiently attract the flies that drown in the water. We are trying to make the most natural choices possible in the cultivation of our trees.
We also use kaolini, a white natural clay to protect the olives from the olive fly since 2013. We are happy with the results. The clay is sprayed onto the trees and forms a protective layer on the olives themselves. The olive fly doesn't recognise the surface it seeks and just flies away.
Furthermore we have decided to introduce intercropping on one third of our fields. It is known that a variety of crops grown between the trees and on the perimeters of the olive groves contributes to the natural control of pests. It also provides nutrients to the soil making them available to our olive trees. This was an old practice which was lost in “modern” farming.
We have started planting citrus trees, vines, and various local herbs such as thyme, oregano, lavender or rosemary, but also white lupines, and much more, around our fields and amongst the olive trees.
Going even further, we are re-introducing forgotten or despised plants formerly considered weeds. For instance, we love inula viscosa, a sticky plant with small and numerous yellow flowers that liberates a powerful smell. The characteristics of this plant help in the struggle against one of the worst enemies of the olive tree, the olive fly.
Concerning the soil and fertilizers we recycle the « pirina » or dry « waste », what is called the olive cake, that results after pressing the olive paste, which is actually a mixture of the olive skin and the olive’s pit. We compost it, and use it as a natural fertilizer with any other green waste from our fields.
These ways of improving the soil are an attempt to rediscover the biodiversity which has been eliminated by olive monoculture. These changes in our farming management practices are spurred by our ever-growing interest in protecting the environment and our concern for improving the standardized methods of cultivation.