Olive trees today are historical witnesses with a singular feature: they are living beings that also produce a precious liquid gold – the olive oil. In the vast majority of villages in this area, olive trees are the predominate crop by far. And there’s more, the high concentration of ancient or millennium olive trees that exist in the Territori del Sénia makes it a unique place on Earth.
In order to get to know them better, value them the way they deserve, and promote this important heritage, the Taula del Sénia Commonwealth with help from the Servei d’Ocupació de Catalunya, has catalogued all of the olive trees in the region. This work began by reviewing all of the previous studies to be able to decide on the numbers and measurements to be applied equally throughout the area.
For an olive tree to be included in the inventory, it must have a trunk perimeter of at least 3.50m at a height of 1.30m above ground (as defined in previous studies). The trees meeting this criteria were then used to define the characteristics of a millennium olive tree. They are: the trunk perimeter at 1.30m above ground, base perimeter, tree top diameter, height, variety and GPS coordinates. A collection of photos were also taken of each specimen. Finding all the trees was an arduous task and wouldn’t have been possible without the help from many people including mayors, councillors, work experience apprentices, staff from the Taula del Sénia Commonwealth, rural wardens, farmers, hunters…, all neighbours from the towns and lovers of their heritatge.
The end result was a complete inventory of 4157 olive trees spread out over 18 towns (Alcanar, Benicarló, Càlig, Canet lo Roig, Cervera del Maestre, Freginals, La Galera, Godall, La Jana, Mas de Barberans, Peñarroya de Tastavins, Rossell, Sant Carles de la Rapita, Santa Bàrbara, La Sénia, Traiguera, Ulldecona and Vinaròs).
Moreover, the OM-TS catalogue has been useful for getting to know the different varieties of these olive trees.The Farga is the predominant variety, accounting for 98.5% of those catalogued, while the rest are from others such as the Sevillenca and Morruda. They are also indigenous to the area. We can say without a shadow of a doubt that the Farga variety has been cultivated for the longest in this region. as well as being almost exclusive to here and a few neighbouring areas. This is a most vigorous variety, perfectly adapted to the climate, and produces a high quality oil considered to be amongst the best, as confirmed by recent studies.
Since 2010, thanks to the Commonwealth and Territori del Sénia Association, all the millennium olive trees whose olives are destined to making the Territori del Sénia millennium olive oil are being marked and identified. This is done by placing a small tie or a label with its own identification number on each olive tree. It is then checked by the food processing and certification company and is also a way to begin to give them the recognition they truly deserve.
Due to the increase in the number of mills producing this type of oil, there are more owners who have come forward with their olive trees that exceed 3.50 m at 1.30 m above ground. After having checked all the measurements, new ones have been incorporated in the inventory. In June 2011, the figure was 4444, spread over the same 18 municipalities. It is predicted that this figure could rise, but it is not expected to reach over 5,000 specimens.
This catalogue, as well as raising the awareness of our tree heritage, has served as a spring-board for improving the economic viability of the fruits of these trees: Territori del Sénia millennium olive oil, both for the owners, and the sectors dedicated to production and gastronomy.
Continuing along this line and with the collaboration of the government and economic sectors, a day will come when these millennium olive trees will be considered a symbol of regional identity.