Planting Olive Trees in Syria

The Olive Tree

The olive tree has been a fundamental part of Syrian life for thousands of years. Some historians believe that the domestic olive tree as we know it, Olea Europeana, was first cultivated in Syria 8000 years ago.

Olive oil is not simply a condiment to Syrians but a symbol of peace and a way of life. Used for medicine, soap & skin-care and of course as the basis to many traditional recipes. It creates employment and cleans the atmosphere with its carbon sucking ecological benefits. Much of the Syrian economy was built around the olive tree.

Amongst the many horrific tragedies of the war in Syria is an agricultural and ecological disaster. Ancient olive groves have been destroyed and vast areas of rural land have been damaged or occupied by militant forces. Militia have looted olive oil mills, destroyed machinery and burnt down whole groves. Some farmers have had to resort to chopping down their own olive trees to sell for firewood.

What we’re doing

That is why we have decided to support Syria Relief in their mission to plant 10,000 olive trees for ecological and social regeneration. We will be donating £1 from each new subscriber towards this mission. Each tree costs £10 to plant and at the time of writing this article we have planted 12 trees. One olive tree can produce for more than 2000 years, providing employment and nourishment to families for generations to come. We are honoured to connect with this project and be a part of rebuilding an essential part of Syrian life in restoring sustainable ancient olive groves.

One day we would like to offer an organic Syrian olive oil from a small family run farm. However, at this point in time, we don’t think it would be sensible to start to import due to the level of corruption and the difficulties at the borders.

Why plant trees? Is this really a sustainable plan?

Planting trees seems to be the new ‘in thing’ for businesses who want to have a direct beneficial impact on the environment. However, it’s not a catch all case. Simply planting mono-culture forests is not a solution for chopping down eco-systems. The reason we wanted to support this olive tree planting project is for real social and environmental change in Syria. These olive groves have been decimated by disaster, rather than for commercial purposes, and they need regenerating. We do understand at Origin Organics that you cannot simply ‘offset’ your carbon emissions and absolve yourself of climate responsibility.

One of the simplest ways to make a positive personal-environmental difference is when purchasing food. By supporting small scale family run organic farms and providing a direct link with a minimal supply chain, we offer our customers that chance to move away from commercial industrial scale olive oil, vinegar and wine production. Our local Brighton round packaging is 100% recycled & 100% recyclable & we ask our customers to leave their boxes out so we can re-use them. Our national eco-protective packaging is roughly 90% recycled and 100% recyclable.

To celebrate Syria, its history and its love for olive oil, we have collected some of our favourite Syrian recipes that feature olive oil that you can read here: recipes/syria