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Adopt an Olive Tree

Issue 02

Here is a creative way to make “shopping” for olive oil a little more interesting: Nudo Italia has a service where you can adopt your own olive tree and receive the oil from your tree’s harvest.  Think of it as virtual farming meets your very own community supported agriculture (CSA) box for olive oil.  Jason and Cathy, the couple behind Nudo Italia, share how they got into the world of olive oil and why they launched the adopt-an-olive-oil-tree concept.  If you were wondering whether you can go visit your adopted tree, the answer is yes!!

INTERVIEW: Jason Gibb, Owner, Nudo Italia {Italy}

Nudo Italia: I’m Jason Gibb, I run Nudo Italia and produce delicious Italian olive oil from le Marche, a region in central Italy.  We are also known for a program where you can adopt an Italian olive tree and receive the extra virgin olive oil that your tree produces.  Prior to starting Nudo Italia, I started off studying science. I received a PhD in biochemistry and then I worked as a television producer for eight years before turning my hand to olive oil making.

CM: How did you go from being a television producer to starting Nudo?
Nudo: My partner Cathy and I were working in LA making reality television shows. We’d been doing this for several years and were ready for a new adventure. I had always dreamed of making something with my hands and one of our favourite pastimes was to go to the farmers’ market buy lovely, local, fresh produce and spend the day cooking. One of our favourite ingredients was olive oil and it seemed like a natural progression to try our hand at making it. We thought the best olive oil came from Italy, so that’s where we wanted to go. We didn’t know anyone in Italy, or speak Italian, but we had tonnes of enthusiasm and a sense of adventure. One of the skills we had from working in television was the ability to go into a new subject knowing relatively little, and quickly become a sort of “expert”.  So we found a beautiful abandoned olive grove, and at the hand of some of the best experts in the region, we learned our new trade.

CM: Why allow people to adopt their own olive tree?
Nudo: We quickly discovered that it is difficult to make money from selling olive oil. You walk into a supermarket and are confronted with dozens of options. In other words, it’s a very competitive market and the margins are small. Also, knowledge of oil is maybe 20 years behind that of wine, so the consumer doesn’t always make a choice based on what is really the best. Among foodies, there is a desire to connect more with the land, to the source of food, and to the producer. So we thought this adopt-an-olive-tree idea would tick all those boxes. We now collaborate with 15 small artisan farmers and you can adopt any one of their trees. The program is very popular with them as it’s a guaranteed income for them at a fair price. They can get on with what they do best, making wonderful olive oil. They are only “disturbed” by the occasional adoptive parent who comes to visit their olive tree.

CM: Do people actually come visit their trees?
Nudo: Each year we have about 50 couples who visit their trees. Many use it as an excuse to visit a part of Italy they don’t know but all want to see their tree. We show them around the grove and leave a bottle of local wine under their tree. Sometimes we’ll then enjoy a glass of wine together soaking in the view. If it’s the right time of year, we may also go and visit the olive press. All visitors come away with an understanding of the skill and passion that goes into making good olive oil.

CM: What type of olive oil do you produce?
Nudo: Our groves are in Le Marche and Abruzzo on the east coast of central Italy. We produce a wonderful delicate extra virgin olive oil. We are also known for our flavoured olive oils. Other people make flavoured oil by infusions or adding chemicals. We make flavoured olive oil by crushing the herb, spice or fruit together with the olives at harvest time. My favourite flavours are lemon with garlic and most recently we’ve made oil that is crushed with fresh mint. We also make lots of other olive oil related products like panettone with olive oil. Yum!

CM: What can a person expect from adopting a tree from Nudo?
Nudo: When you adopt an olive tree, you receive an adoption certificate and a booklet. In the spring, you receive the 3x500ml/16.9floz tins of extra virgin olive oil from your tree. This costs just $69/£29. You can also add additional seasonal packages of monovarietal and olio nuovo. The adoption lasts a year and many people readopt the same tree year after year.

CM: Is Nudo olive oil sold anywhere else?
Nudo: Our olive oil is found in many shops around the world (see our list of global stockists).  We also ship globally through our webshop.

CM: Do you entertain at home?

Nudo: We often entertain at home. We have a breakfast bar for more casual dining, if it’s just a close friend or two. We have an open plan kitchen, which is the centre of the house, which means we can cook and socialise at the same time. Then we have a big pine table for more formal or larger scale entertaining. We’ll happily spend the whole day cooking lots of delicious food, often vegetarian (since I’m a veggie) and usually Italian. I do mains and Cathy is queen of desserts. I try to get as a many of our products in the meal as possible.

CM: When you entertain at home, what can always be found on your table?
Nudo: Nudo olive oil with garlic and one with lemons, Maldon sea salt, Italian red wine (from Montepulciano) and white wine (a Verdicchio from le Marche).

CM: I also saw you wrote a book- what is it about?
Nudo: We wrote a book called the Dolce Vita Diaries which tells the story of changing our lives around and becoming olive farmers. At the end of each chapter are several recipes which relate to the story and our experiences.

CM: What is Nudo olive oil best suited for cooking or baking?
Nudo: Our olive oils are great for drizzling, dipping and finishing. Our flavoured oils are lovely on salads, brilliant for baking and shortcut to culinary nirvana!

Photo Sources: Nudo Italia

For more on Nudo Italia, check out their blog full of delicious recipes, stories and olive oil tidbits.

One Response to “Adopt an Olive Tree”

  1. [...] our Fall 2012 issue we looked at all the great things you can do with olive oil; from baking to adopting an olive tree.  We also featured a photo shoot on hosting your very own olive tasting party.  You can check out [...]

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