“In parallel to my never dying love and excitement for properly produced extra virgin olive oils and the art form, I became saddened and, at the same time, fascinated with the state of abandoned groves across central Italy.
People were abandoning their dreams, investments, legacies and traditions, negatively affecting the community and the environment.
Many had inherited land with no interest in cultivation, but many abandoned it because the cost of olive oil production did not justify the market's resale price.
I then met Andrea Pagliai. We were immediately aligned on the importance of a community maintaining its connection to the grove. We hypothesized that by restoring these groves to their former glory and crafting an uncompromising olive oil season after season, we could positively affect the community, conserve the heritage and biodiversity and transmit a region's experience and unique personality.
But it had to be about the oil first. Without an excellent and modern oil, it would be impossible to lure people to the table and the grove and to affect positive change.
But the last thing I set out to do was start an olive oil company.
I wanted to create opportunities to share the exact a-ha moment when I first experienced a properly produced oil and raise awareness about ‘all’ the benefits of olive oil.
So we started narrating the harvests and air-shipping our production to our family and friends in North America. Together, we celebrated through dinners, talks, and classes. A documentary was born about this olive oil obsession, won an award, and our oil production would continue to sell out year after year.
I started to look at 'Abandoned Grove' as the vehicle to keep sharing all things that were dear to me, slow meals, elevated dishes, conviviality, friends, family, community, health and beautiful landscapes; I was all in.
I realized that its effect on people is what needed to be scaled.
It then became evident that if we could supply more oil, we could share more experiences with new people and better support more communities.
To this day, I still don't feel like we have ever sold a bottle of oil, but instead shared experiences and started conversations.
Today the people supporting Abandoned grove oil are not clients but stakeholders in this mission, members of a family and a community.”