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The cold and extreme climate olive culturing

Reportage from Piedmont, in the North of Italy. This is not a peripheral region of the oil world; people from there are working for a solid future of their oil production. They also have a Consortium for the regulation of their production procedures. We can expect great things from them

I have been in Piedmont, in the North-West of Italy, in the first months of 2011. For the precision I was in Saluzzo for attending a meeting about oil: the exhibition “Ramulivo”. This exhibition and market was held thanks to the efforts of Paolo Pejrone, a great garden designer and now also oil producer from this area.

Now we are sure that Piedmont will make its best for the diffusion of the olive tree in this Northwest part of Italy. Moreover this trend is also involving the neighbor region Valle d’Aosta, an even northern area of Italy. It is worth noting that this is not a new thing, since in the past these areas cultivated olive trees, even if in very modest quantities.

The olive tree is part of the culture of these areas, and it is now coming back. People from these areas are really making their best at this purpose: they recently also make a Consortium, chaired by Marco Giachino, for the preservation of the extra virgin olive oil from Piedmont and Valle d’Aosta.

The aim of the Consortium is to preserve and make the most of the “high potentialities” of the valuable and appreciated oil productions from those regions. This Consortium set up many collaborations with important institutions, such as the Faculty of Agriculture – Department of tree cultures – of the University of Torino. There is also a regulation of the production procedures, a clean sign that people are working seriously there. For the interested reader we suggest the study “Olivicoltura in aree marginali. Ricerca e prospettive in Nord Italia”, by the very good researchers Deborah Isocrono and Antonino De Maria, from the University of Torino, and Emanuela Gaia Forni, from the Region Piedmont council.

The Consortium is not alone in this field. There is also the Asspo, the Piedmont olive farmers association, chaired by Pier Luigi Baratono. This association is restless in providing support to the new and the established olive tree farms. Established in 2003 in Vialfre by ten hobbyists, this association is now looking toward the future. According to Baratono: “there is hope. We can report many cases in which olive trees took the place of brambles or false acacias. Olive tree culturing could be a serious possibility of rescue for many lots left uncultivated”.

Those people worked really hard. They also set the basis for the creation of a database of the Piedmont olive germoplasm. Moreover we cannot forget the very peculiar sensory profiles of oils from Piedmont. These oils are characterized by the presence of high concentrations of unsaturated fat acids, as compared to the other Italian olive oils. Finally it is important to stress that most of the oils produced here are classified as extra virgin olive oil. The efforts of these people are really giving results.


by Luigi Caricato
03 october 2011, Technical Area > Olive & Oil

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