In Brescia, Neglected City Olives Get Harvested

A group of citizens came together to harvest olives from trees throughout the city of Brescia and make olive oil.
Olive trees on Lake Garda walking path
Dec. 12, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

The ini­tia­tive of a group of cit­i­zens in Brescia, a large north­ern Italian town, has brought on the har­vest of many olive trees whose fruits had long be neglected.

It is the first time such an ini­tia­tive has taken place in the city, where more than 50 dif­fer­ent olive cul­ti­vars grow, ran­domly scat­tered among pub­lic and pri­vate prop­er­ties.

In Villaggio Sereno, one of Brescia’s south­ern dis­tricts, the mem­bers of a local active cit­i­zen­ship group known as Community Point ini­tially reached just a few fam­i­lies who own some of those trees. The goal of their ini­tia­tive, which they called Let’s put our olives together,” was to avoid wast­ing the many olives dot­ting the trees.

See Also:Farms in Italy Welcome an Uptick in Agritourism as Challenging Harvest Gets Underway

We just needed to avoid a waste of food. Many of those who own those trees did not har­vest the fruits, which then were lost. So it all started, and from the 20 fam­i­lies ini­tially inter­ested, we got to 36. In October, thanks to four vol­un­teers, we gath­ered the needed nets, fruit rakes, and patience,” Giorgio Baitini, a Community Point orga­nizer, told local news­pa­per Giornale di Brescia.

We thought we would have been col­lect­ing no more than 100 or 120 kilo­grams. Instead, we have har­vested more than 9 quin­tals,” he added.

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Olive oil mills located near the city have pro­duced dozens of liters of extra vir­gin olive oil from the olives har­vested. Given the source of the olives, Community Point named the prod­uct Olio Sereno” (“happy olive oil” in Italian), not­ing that it should also be con­sid­ered a Denomination of Social Origin (DSO) prod­uct.

According to Baitini, unlike the EU-cer­ti­fied PDOs (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGIs (Protected Geographical Indication), the unof­fi­cial des­ig­na­tion fits the true nature of the ini­tia­tive.

It is an exam­ple of how join­ing forces enables the com­mu­nity to solve its prob­lems, to restore what would have oth­er­wise ended up going to waste. It is a solid def­i­n­i­tion [for the oil], and it is good to eat, and a way to give value to our court­yards and gar­dens,” Baitini noted.

The local com­mu­nity later gath­ered at a pub­lic Bruschettata” event orga­nized by Community Point to taste the oil in tra­di­tional olive oil bruschetta, a toasted bread slice gar­nished with the newly milled olive oil.

The olive oil pro­duced by the vol­un­teers has now been divided among them, the own­ers of the trees, and the Let’s be fam­ily” ini­tia­tive of the Caritas char­ity orga­ni­za­tion.

The Olio Sereno ini­tia­tive built on the strong con­nec­tion between Brescia and olive oil mak­ing. The city bor­ders a large region in the Lake Garda area where olive oil pro­duc­tion is grow­ing and where some of the most valu­able Italian EVOOs are made.



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