More than oil: millenary olive trees are open-air museums

Jan 17, 2017 | written by:

Few trees are representative of the Mediterranean than the olive trees, a heritage a time not enough protected. In the region of the Senia, halfway between Barcelona and Valencia, it is one of the areas with the highest concentration of age-old olive trees in the Mediterranean. In a range of no more than 50 km are to be found around 5000 whose 'birth date' dates back to over 1000 years ago.

The institution "Taula del Senia" has undertaken since 2009 a census of these historic trees, any of which are abandoned by time. The objective of the initiative, still in progress, is twofold: on the one hand increase the scientific evidence for these extraordinary plants and their origin, on the other raise awareness on cultural and economic value of this heritage, ignored for years, generates.

The initiative's technical partner is the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), which employs in dating a laser measuring system. From the data collected two olive trees are record results: one, named "the Farga de Arion" was planted at the time of the Roman emperor Constantine I, more than 1700 years ago; the other "the Farga of Mas Pou," would be traced back to the ninth century, when the Iberian Peninsula was under the control of Arab Emir Abd ar-Rahman II. These, and other exceptional plants, have become living works to be admired in the open-air Museum of Olives Millenari of Senia.

For decades, regardless of the historical value of these trees and discouraged by the small yield of the trees, the local farmers have been reluctant to devote to the complex cultivation of olive trees. The project 'Millenary Olive Trees of the Sénia', born from the desire to preserve an area that saw plundered and impoverished, radically changed this perception. Uprooting an olive tree that it may be sold and transplanted to the other side of the world is no longer morally acceptable to the local community. This path of awareness intake is also the subject of the Spanish film "El Olivo", released in 2016, directed by Iciar Bollain.

Emblematic the case of Amador Peset, a young carpenter who four years ago, found itself without work during the Spanish economic crisis, has started to take care of the olive trees of this area bringing them back a thousand years old in a production-ready conditions. "At first people would take me for a madman." Peset said in an interview with the magazine Olive Oil Times, "It was not normal to see a guy remove weeds from abandoned trees. But when they discovered that there was a window of opportunity for enhancing the area and sell oil, they began to look at me with different eyes".

Special oil, sold as 'produced by millenary olive trees', but no longer marketed at the expense of the environment like Spain ivory. The environment provides resources. Pieces of history, true roots of a portion of Europe that every day comes to terms with his being the bridge to the mainland. Enhance them is to man.

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