For Greeks, the olive tree has been a symbol of their history, tradition and national identity. Homer called olive the “liquid gold of nutrition”, Aristotle considered its cultivation a science, while Hippocrates used olive oil as a medicine. Its branch symbolises peace and it was used as the award for the champions in ancient games.
In the fertile plain of Ormylia, and Halkidiki in general, the olive tree is the queen of the fields. Halkidiki olives are characterised by their large size and the good flesh to stone ratio. They are green, with a fruity aroma, and a slightly bitter and spicy taste. There is no oily feeling to them, due to centuries of olive trees adapting to the unique terrain and climate conditions of the region.
When the nuns settled it the Mount Athos dependency in 1974, the plain of Ormylia did not look as it is today. There were mulberry trees used to farm silkworms. Other cultivations were limited. On the slopes one would see scattered centuries old olive trees, the so-called ‘Kalogerikes’ (monastic trees), that have survived through time, highlighting the historical continuity of the land. The nuns made sure to plant olive trees on the land that welcomed them. Over the years, the plain of Ormylia has turned into an endless lush olive grove.
The olive groves of the Holy Priory now cover a significant area. Cultivating olive trees is no simple matter. A plentiful bounty demands constant care and diligent engagement throughout the year.
In September and November, when the olives are ripe, a great pagoinia (the monastic term for collective group work) takes place. The entire monastic community leaves all other activities, and works on the harvest. Contact with the earthly creations of God is reason for praise and gratitude towards the Creator of all things, and is a special blessing for the sisters.
The current priorities of the Convent are the production of new products with traditional methods, with respect towards the environment. The constantly increasing demands of the market have led to the necessity of acquiring Quality Management & Food Safety Certificates in accordance with International Models ISO 9001 & ISO 22000, as well as an Organic Product Certificate. The awards the convent’s products have received at International Food Quality Competitions are the best reward for this effort!