Olive groves

According to experts olives were first cultivated in Paxi more than a thousand years ago. Certain enormous trees that have survived attest to this. Large scale planting began with the period of Venetian domination (1386-1797), the motivation of the Venetians being profit. On one side the Venetians could acquire duty free olive oil and the other side the Paxiots received income. In order to achieve this objective inducements were introduced, such as a 10 year exemption to paying the tithe and a pecuniary payment of 40 [τσεκίνια] for the cultivation of 100 trees. Back then they started applying cultivating techniques to the wild olive trees that were abundant.

In 1766 the number of olive trees on the island was 28,672. In 1781 there were 74,151. Salvator reported that in 1895 there were some 440,000 olives trees under cultivation and another 100,000 wild trees. These figures are perhaps excessive, the actual number of olive trees in Paxi is no greater than 200,000.

Along with the olive trees dry stone walls were built in order to retain the scant earth that rainfall would otherwise wash into the sea. The quality of the olive olive is exceptional. At the 1800 Paris Exhibition, the golden medal was won by Athanassios Papamarkos. In 1862 the award for excellence at the London World Fair of 1862 was given to A Bogdano and Aloizio Vellianitis. The latter was also awarded a gold medal for excellence at the Paris Exhibition of 1867. These achievements were followed in 1870 during the Olympic Exhibtion by a bronze medal for Ioannis Katsimis and a silver for the Mayor of Paxos.

After the decline of the Venetians, exports turned to Russia, Turkey and France. Boats, called Bratseres, would arrive outside the harbour of Gaios and the merchants would float goatskin bags tied up one behind another and pulled using rope out to the awaiting boats where the holds were loaded. Storage of olive oil was either in so called kapases (jars), pyles (rectangular stone containers brought from Malta) and tanks that were dug out of the rock underneath houses. Today large capacity tin cans are used along with steel barrels.

The production of olive oil reached 500 tons in 1776 and has been increasing ever since. By 1990 production had quadrupled to 2,000 tons.

In 1905 olive oil from Paxos was bottled by Georgios Antiochos and exported to Michigan in the USA.

In 1924 the Gaios Rural Cooperative was established from a group of producers. They constructed there own factory which played and still plays an important role in maintaing supply and increasing the price of olive oil. Today, the cooperative continues to grow using the latest technologies. The efforts of Spyros Antiochos president of the community of Magazia and his struggle to ban the use of harmful pesticides have been embraced by the administration of the cooperative.

After a long fight, it became possible to stop crop spraying in Paxos in 1990. A majority of producers now use organic techniques to manage their crops, using traps for the olive fly and various types of natural fertilizer. More than 2,000 acres, a figure which is continually increasing, is now cultivated organically and subsidised, while Paxi was voted as the organic part of Greece.

The type of olive grown on the island is the lianolia and these are gathered using nets when the olives mature and fall from the tree. The edible olives are: chontrolies, kopanistis, throubolies, stachtolies, nerolies, salamouras, frymenes, etc. The olive is help the population survive and grow as well as providing a large part of the income for the island. Despite the increase in tourism over the last decades, income from olives and olive oil remains important for many households.



Paxos Tourist Guide 2015
Powered by Double Click
Φωτογραφικό υλικό: Σπύρος Κολοβός & Δημήτριος Κίντζιος