For Every Drop There was a Flower and a Whole Lotta Love

From this tiny fragile olive flower, millions of men, women and children over millennia and around the globe have been baptized, bathed, soothed, nourished and healed by olive oil. As these tender blossoms cascade to the ground in the spring breezes, tiny green dots emerge cradled in silver green leaves that whisper of autumn and the harvest.

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Abundance is an overused word these days, except on a morning like this in spring with birdsong filling the air as fledglings learn to fly. Berries turn from red to shining purple-black in the course of a day, and the waxy orange trumpets of pomegranates dance in the branches. We witness the exuberance and generosity of Nature and know abundance in a whole new way.

Holding this flower in my Brobdingnagian fingertips, I am amazed at its delicacy, beauty … and power. The olives will face many challenges from early heat, rains, winds, hail and fruit fly before the harvest can even begin. Those who tend the trees and groves do it with a dedication that can only hold through the challenges if it is fueled by love.

the olive flower is miniscule.
Small but mighty olive flower.

There is devotion through rough work in the pruning, pride and expectation in the tending and, any time from blossom to harvest, chance of devastation and heartbreak wrought by forces beyond any human being’s control. There is a madness at harvest to gently but quickly gather while the fruit holds it greatest promise. All hands, young and old, are on deck through long hours dictated by sunlight or exhaustion.

As modern science proves ancient wisdom, some olive growers are applying techniques including regenerative agriculture and other practices to enhance the level of beneficial phenolic compounds in olive oil. But it all starts with this mini gift of Nature.

And every year notwithstanding human antics of wars, occupation or pandemic, the olive blossoms come forth once again – in abundance – and we are graced with Nature’s offering of health and well-being.

We learn from Nature – not only patience and fortitude, but skills in listening and paying attention. Finding what the earth, the soil, wants to better nourish the roots and fruit of the tree. To let wildflowers attract the birds and insects. Invite animals to wander. When and how to harvest the olives and to care for their quick and gentle passage from nets, crates to mill. And then testing, experimenting, and holding a collective breath while the oil pours forth in an opaque emerald fount.

Labour of love preserving a heritage grove.
Family tradition blends with youthful vision.
Courtesy: THE DAFNIS FAMILY, Corfu
Balancing a professional career with love of olive oil.
Courtesy: OLIO ZO ORGANIC, Cyprus
Natural bounty of mineral rich soil and microclimate.
Courtesy MONTE ROSSO ESTATE, Croatia
Nurturing the young ones.
Early harvest, unripe green olives.
Respect for the wisdom of years.
Courtesy: EFKRATO ORGANIC, Crete
During harvest, day is done when work is done.
Courtesy: BIO GREEN ORGANIC, Preveza
Sharing the love through agritourism.
Regenerative practices invite animals to roam, to mow and more…
Courtesy: LA CASONA, Spain
The thrill of the first pour!
Courtesy: LADON, Arcadia

No one who has tended an olive grove and drunk of the early harvest oil, perhaps coughing and laughing self-consciously as it bites the throat, doubts that this olive oil is a super food. Science is now proving what ancients surmised and applied with trust and knowledge from experience. Research into the beneficial constituents of the olive juice – for that is what it is – are offering surprising insight into the chemical interplay of plant and human.

Knowing the path of that tiny fragile blossom into an elixir that supports and often heals the body is to be made humble. When we revere Nature, olive oil is no longer a commodity, but a blessing.

How can I serve? is what my soul asks of me as I gaze at this tiny flower balanced on my fingertips.

“Write about me”, the olive flower says, and so I do.


Note: The gallery above is only a sampling of thriving olive growers working more closely with Nature to produce olive oils rich in phenolic compounds that qualify for the EU Health Claim 432-2012.

The featured image “Olives and Olive Oil” is by renowned artist, Tim Gustard who has graciously granted me use of this image. I chose Tim’s art because it captues the same devotion to beauty and the richness of life that Nature tumbles at our feet. Give yourself a mini vacation and visit his gallery. You’ll be so glad you did.

Below is a recent interview discussing clinical trials using olive oils high in phenolic content.

If you would like to know more about the distinct category of High Phenolic Olive Oil with an EU Health Claim, check out my publication Beyond Organic, Beyond Extra Virgin on MEDIUM.