Greece will restore the Delphi olive grove that was badly damaged during a wildfire last summer, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
“A total of 60,000 olive trees will be planted in the area to replace those that were burned in the fire,” Mitsotakis said during a visit to the area.
“We aim to transform this unique characteristic of the Delphi landscape into a productive olive grove and combine agricultural production with cultural and recreational activities,” he added.
He said that money has already been secured from both public and private sources. Mitsotakis also noted that the olives and olive oil of the Amfissa grove should be premium priced too.
“It is impossible for the olive oil and olives produced in the Amfissa grove not to be sold for much more than the oils and olives produced in other groves which don’t have the enormous historical weight of the country’s largest olive grove, [and] is completely identified with the Delphi landscape,” he said.
“So, we need a brand name, the ‘Sacred Delphi’ or something similar, to show producers that there is a future,” Mitsotakis added. “There is more added value. Our intention is not to sell our olive oil to Italy in bulk, but to gain the added value ourselves” and to benefit Greece also.
He also said that the grove should become a “lab of innovation” to seek ways to improve yields in olive oil production, as the Greek sector has struggled to market itself internationally and often sold much of the commodity to Italian companies who brand it as their own.
Olive grove is part of the Delphi landscape, a UNESCO site
The Olive Grove of Amfissa near Delphi is the largest continuous grove in Greece with over 1.2 million trees whose age has been lost in the lapse of centuries.
It stretches out across 5,500 hectares from the town of Amfissa to the Corinthian Gulf and from the village of Erateini to the village Kirra. It is part of the famous Delphi landscape.
The earliest information indicates wild olives were harvested at the olive grove as far back as the Neolithic Age. However, according to some sources, it was the Pelasgians who first planted olive trees here in prehistoric times. Since then, the use of the land has not changed no matter how many occupiers have gone by.
It is a single-cultivation, non-linear plantation of old trees (70 percent of them are over 150 years old). Their trunks have deep folds, their foliage is rich, and many of them are as high as ten meters.
Today, a large part of the olive grove is an integral part of the Delphi Landscape, which is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
In ancient times, Pleistos and Ylaithos, two rivers that are now dry creeks, flowed into that valley. The area fauna is mostly shrubland, but a large part of it, possibly half of the expanse, is covered by olive groves.
These olive trees were the result of wild olive grafting and belong to the famous Amfissa olive variety. They have a special round shape and can be found in green and black. Their uses in the food industry are many, as they are available whole, cut, and stuffed.