Research into the Cooperative Olive Oil set- up in France took me to a wonderful medieval Provençal village in the Haute Provence called Ollioules, about 5 km inland between Toulon and Aix en Provence. This is a great spot for discovering the beaches on the Provençal coast but I wanted to check out the local cooperative mill run by volunteers.
The olive oil mill called Cooperative Ollioules might be small but this is where growers, owners of both big and small domaines take their fruit to be processed into wonderful healthy extra virgin olive oil. Respecting olive oil Provençal tradition, the olives here are mostly handpicked and processed within hours.
Every year, the town celebrates Fêtes de l’Olivier de L’Ollioules – three fun filled days of concerts, exhibitions, conferences and of an impressive display of food. Growers, professionals and amateurs all have something to learn from the Olive oil experts and technicians who are there to inform.
What I felt strongly at this cooperative mill though, was the dedication and pure enjoyment the growers felt about their very own olive oil produced in their own region – the magic of Provençal terroir.
In Ollioules, they’re not too bothered about in formation packed labels and beautiful bottles; they recognize and care deeply about their liquid gold, their Provençal heritage.