You Can Adopt An Olive Tree In Italy

Experience one of the most quintessential and flavorful aspects of Italian culture — adopt an olive tree in southern Italy for a year.

Adopt an olive tree in Italy
Olive grove in Calabria, Italy. Photo: TRE OLIVE.

The olive tree has always been — and remains to be — a prominent and notable figure associated with typical Italian life. Any trip to Italy will delight you with bottles of its purest olive oil, finest olive wood kitchenware, and tastiest dishes that highlight one of the country’s most famous commodities. There is now a family-run business in the Calabria region of Italy where you can adopt an olive tree from one of their centuries-old olive groves.

The olive tree: a brief history

The true origin of the olive tree has been lost with time, but it’s known to have been growing wild in the surrounding areas of the Mediterranean Sea long throughout history. In fact, it is said to be one of the oldest known cultivated trees in the world—from around 8,000 years ago.

Long before it emerged as an essential cooking oil, it was primarily used for cleaning and personal hygiene due to its natural purity. By the 5th century BC, olive trees were so widely cultivated in Greece and the Aegean islands, that they swiftly made their way to Sicily, where the trees thrived in the fertile, volcanic soil from Mount Etna. They continued to move north from Sicily, spreading throughout Rome, and became a valuable resource for the Romans. Some experts even attribute the development of the first olive press to the Romans as this ‘liquid gold’ became such an important aspect of their daily life. Not only was the oil used to enhance their food and as coveted ointment and salve for the rich and powerful, but it’s also believed that the Romans would collect their taxes in the form of olive oil. The olive and its tree were truly viewed as an image of comfort and luxury.

Adopt an olive tree in Italy
Olive trees in Calabria. Photo: TRE OLIVE.

The tree itself stands as a beautifully twisted and gnarled piece of nature’s art, and an aged tree will boast a thick and hardy trunk that has grown to withstand the test of time. Most olive trees do live a long life, and some of them have been sprinkled around Italy for 2,000 or more years. Typically, a tree will not even bear fruit until it’s at least fifteen years old, so its curated care is one of patience.

Through the centuries, the olive tree has also become a symbol of peace for many civilizations, and the very expression of ‘extending an olive branch’ even signifies that today. What once was just a wild tree dotting the Mediterranean has branded itself as an unmistakable aspect of Italian food and culture today.

Adopting an olive tree in Italy

As someone who has lived, studied, and traveled many times to Italy, I have lovingly embraced and immersed myself into the Italian obsession that is the olive. Mamma mia, I even have a cat named Olive. Last year for Christmas, my husband discovered TRE OLIVE, a family-run company that has been growing their own olives and making extra virgin olive oil for generations. In 1934, they opened their very first olive mill to initially help support local farmers with their harvest. In 2009, three cousins — hence the name TRE — had the idea of creating their own high-quality product to be shared around the world in an effort to avoid selling their oil to larger companies that tend to dilute it. They proudly boast on their website that all of their oil comes from olives that are grown on their land and are picked and pressed by their family.

Adopt an olive tree in Italy
The adoption trio. Photo: TRE OLIVE.

TRE OLIVE’s family factory is wonderfully situated in the foothills of Calabria, a region of southern Italy. With a dozen or so unique and individually named olive groves, you can imagine the number of rows of beautifully matured olive trees that cover their property. In fact, they say that many of their trees are more than a century old. TRE OLIVE soon realized that they wanted to share more than just the olive products that they created, so they decided to also share the trees themselves. You can now personally adopt an olive tree from their beloved groves.

The adoption process is quite lovely. The TRE OLIVE family takes special care in preparing your tree for its adoption, and in doing so, you become an honorary member of their family. You are gifted with a stunning package that is sent straight from their olive groves in Italy to your doorstep. Before even opening the box, you’re met with a deep, earthy smell that brings you about as close to tree-to-table as it gets.

Adopt an olive tree in Italy
Welcome package from TRE OLIVE. Photo: Tiffany Eastham.

Your package will include an official adoption certificate, a beautiful set of photos of your tree with your name on it, and three tins of their finest olive oil. You retain this official adoption for a year with the option to renew it indefinitely. In the spring, you’ll receive a second set of three tins that include olive oil specifically from your tree’s fall harvest. They even encourage individuals to come and visit their adopted tree, but just be sure to let them know when you’re coming to someone can show you around.

When I first opened my box from TRE OLIVE, I was greeted with a picture of my tree standing proudly among others in the backdrop. My olive tree was located in the Melia Collina grove that was described as sitting on a hilltop of the family’s land, overlooking the surrounding valley with neighboring orange groves and vineyards. The trees in this particular vineyard are rather ‘young’, ranging from just 25-50 years old, but they produce a faithful harvest year after year.

As promised, in April of that following spring, I received three more tins of olive oil that had been handpicked, pressed, and produced by my tree. Months later, I am still working my way through those tins when I craft my own culinary dishes at home. I plan to renew my tree adoption in November with hopes of visiting it when I return to Italy next year.

Olive tree
A picture of my adopted olive tree. Photo: Tiffany Eastham.

Now is the perfect time to adopt an olive tree as they prepare for their fall harvest. Spoil a friend or family member with this unique gift, or perhaps keep it for yourself as a token of true Italian culture.

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