With the last of the olives pressed and bottled and sent to markets all round the world eager for Spain’s celebrated ‘liquid gold’, the mills have closed up until the next season. For one mill though, there is still much work to be done – a new certified organic mill has opened in the Alpujarras and as this is their first full year of production there is plenty of work still to do. Not only are they pressing olives for others they have also launched their own brand, La Flor de las Alpujarras, and are busy promoting their top quality extra virgin oil.
The mill is the result of years of planning and preparation by a dedicated team who started out in 2006 with the idea of being able to press their own olives on a small, cottage industry scale. The final result is a bigger commercial project that pressed over 20,000 litres of organic olive oil in their first full season, and the same amount of conventional. Built just outside of the village of Orgiva, the mill is small by the commercial standards of many local mills, but is unique in the area in having a dedicated organic line and is fully certified by organic trade bodies CAAE and Agrocolor. “We press both conventional and organic olives here,” explained Trevor Taylor, a member of the cooperative that runs the mill. “Our mission is to encourage people to realise the value of organic production and we can do that very easily here as we buy conventional olives at 40c a kilo and organic ones at 70c a kilo.” This obvious advantage may help people convert to organic production and the cooperative is working with the certification bodies to help small holdings get certified in collectives, reducing the cost per finca and making the paperwork easier.
Looking to establish the brand as a high quality oil, the Flor de las Alpujarras produce their organic extra virgin olive oil with an acidity of just 1º and the conventional oil at 2º. The plant uses mechanical cold extraction methods and the temperature is carefully controlled so that none of the vital properties are damaged in the process. “We don’t want to compete with the conventional mills,” Trevor continued. “We want to find our own niche and there is certainly room for high quality oils of this kind in the market. We now have distribution in different parts of Europe as well as many local customers.” Not only is the project bringing the advantages of organic production to the local community, the whole process has been a steep learning curve for those involved and an example of team work and integration between the local Spanish and foreign community in the area.
The cooperative now has over 40 members; over half of them Spanish, many of them women and the advisory committee that manages the daily running of the mill reflects this mix with a Spanish female president and English female vice president. With a shared vision and common purpose, the cooperative of the Flor de las Alpujarras has plans to blossom and grow over the coming years as a beacon for organic producers throughout the region.
Tel: 958 953 048
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