Heritage Olive Orchards in Pergamon

My grandfather was a "Mubadil," and I don't think this translates directly to English. It is a term that is used in Turkey and means that he was from the group of people that were forced to leave their lands and belongings in Greece or Turkey at the end of the First World War in the 1920's. His family was originally from Thessalonike in Greece, they were relocated to Bergama (Pergamon) in Turkey. No one asked them if they wanted to leave or where they would prefer to live, the governments on both sides decided on their behalf.

My grandfather lost all his six of his siblings on the way and later both of his parents. He would never talk about this, he was a very silent man. He was a professor in Economics but would never keep his money in banks and delayed buying a house because of this trauma from his childhood. You might be asking yourself, "Why is she telling me this?". This story is important because it is how our family inherited our olive orchards. We were lucky to have inherited them from that time.

The general olive oil supply in my house was always from the olive orchards that my grandfather took over late in his life. He had a groundskeeper there that would send us olive oil. After he passed away, it was my father’s turn to look after the orchard. For the first time last year, the keeper at the orchard told us there were no olives and therefore no olive oil. It was then I decided that it was my time to take over and look after the orchards.

Taking care of olives is a family thing here in Turkey. When my son came home from Canada for the holidays, we found ourselves on top of heritage olive trees picking olives. We were so excited since this would be our first try. I believe this is in our blood; we loved picking and collecting olives on those beautiful trees overlooking the valley and having a view of the most mythological of all seas, the Aegean Sea.

We even found a tree that had a heart shape and immediately imagined a story about how Zeus turned someone who was in love with his wife Hera into an olive tree! At the end of the day extracting the olive oil was our well-deserved treat. It is early harvest now, which means we get extra virgin olive oil. The flavors met and exceeded our expectations. At our cooking classes, we will use this olive oil and use it with pride!

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