For hundreds of years, there has been a strong connection between the inhabitants of Halkidiki and the cultivation of green olives. This can be understood by the trapitous (stone olive mills) and other excavation findings that have been discovered from time to time. The introduction of the vertical millstone is very important, because it presupposes the use of the rotary motion in a conversion machine, for the first time. From the olives history, the oldest example of this type comes from Olynthos, dating to the 4th century b.C. The ancient olive mill in Vrasna of the Municipality of Thessaloniki was excavated in the summer of 1992 and the use of the mills of Olynthos was confirmed.
The domestication of wild olive trees that grew in areas that were not suitable for wheat cultivation contributed to the development of Halkidiki olive growing. Thus, the first olive groves were created.
From the 14th century the existence of “Tzimilaria”, as the olive mills were called in Byzantine times, is mentioned, as well as the discovery of archaeological findings. All this testifies to the processing of green olives on Mount Athos and in other areas of Halkidiki. Specific historical reports for olive groves in Halkidiki have existed since 1415. Specifically:
From the Halkidiki olives history, we know that in the rest of Halkidiki, there were domesticated olive trees. Their presence often functioned as a place name. The fruit of these olive trees seems to have been used mainly for the production of edible olives.
About the olives history, in 1887 the large olive grove of Portaria had already been organized. This olive grove originated around 1900, by the brothers Kenan and Mustafa Hatzi-Osman. They expanded it and created the first systematic olive grove in Macedonia on flat land. It occupied an area of 4,125 decimal acres and consisted of, according to written and oral reports, between 32,000 and 120,000 olive trees.
The Hatzi-Osman brothers themselves established an oil mill in their estate to serve the olive grove. At the same time, they founded the first steam-powered oil mill in Macedonia, in 1905, on the beach of Gerakini. This was used, in order to utilize the production that was turning out to be remarkable. This was the trigger for the modernization of the respective facilities in Halkidiki.
During the period 1917-1927, Halkidiki is mentioned as the only olive oil production area in Macedonia. This is according to a research conducted in 1922 by the industry supervisor of the General Directorate of Thessaloniki. In particular, there are 191 olive mills (including sesame mills), with a capacity of serving 400,000 olive trees per year. In the inventory of the surviving olive mills, which was conducted between November 1992 and April 1993, 39 were found. A characteristic of all the mills of that period, is that their location is always in direct relation to the house of an olive grower. In coastal settlements, the location of the mill is always by the sea, in order to facilitate the loading of the by-products on ships. The destination was mainly the Kiapekou olive – pomace oil mill in Chalkida.
The green olive in Halkidiki, at least for the last two centuries, is an important point of reference. That’s because, holds an important role both in the economic life of the inhabitants and in the social tradition and folklore.
In Halkidiki there are many toponyms related to the olive. Near Nea Triglia there is the settlement of Eleochoria (“Olive villages”). In Nikiti, the toponyms Elia (“Olive”), Mikri Elia (“Little olive”) and others bearing the names of olive grove owners, indicate the existence of olive trees in the area. Typical examples are Koukourouma’s Olive (Nikiti), Deliangelos’ Olive (Metamorphosis), Hamaidi’s Elara (Gerakini), etc. In Stratoni, you’ll find the “Eleonas” position. In ancient Stageira, located east of Olympiada at a distance of 700 meters, there is the site Liotopi, where important archaeological excavations are carried out.
The Olive Festival has been established since the 80’s and is organized every July in Olynthos. The olive growers and the inhabitants of Olynthos strengthen every year the ties they maintain with the olive growing, the olive products, but also with the traditions that bond the mythical tree with Halkidiki.
Dissertation of Tasos Kaitatzis
Today, the green olive of Halkidiki is widespread throughout the world. The characteristics that make it a world-class product are the crispy and delicious flesh and the flesh to pit ratio, which is 9/1. Thus, it is a unique product that can be filled with various appetizers, such as garlic, pepper, almond, etc. These appetizers can highlight even more the Mediterranean flavours.
Olive cultivation statistics in Halkidiki: Gaia Olives Blog