In 2005, Dianne and Steve de Laet purchased Elagaia at the foot of the Artemisio mountain range on the Peloponnese where olives have been harvested for over 7000 years . Our olives are grown in a single orchard which guarantees taste and quality that is consistently exceptional. The olives are hand picked and locally processed.
What follows is an odd story about the inspiration that indirectly led to the beginning of an organic olive orchard and our olive oil business – Ama’s Grove. In 2011, The Arete Fund was pleased to host at ElaGaia - our home in Greece - a Conference on Culture. In welcoming our guests from the Green Political Party, I spoke on behalf of The Arete Fund and our commitment to education and cultural outreach as a pathway to greater peace. I spoke calmly enough even though I worried at the end of every sentence if the toilet would flush or the tent might lift off in the wind.
The question: What are two Americans really doing on a Greek Mountain?
On the one hand, we are trying to live up to an idea and make good on a promise that was made at our wedding in Greece back in 1970. On the other, we continue to enter new “dumb zones” by the day and do our best to make good on the goofs. If, for example, I knock over the olive oil, I polish the floor, the furniture. I consider it a miracle if anything mechanical works once I have wanted it to work or have touched it. Whereas Steve recognizes every gadget and gizmo as a friend, I have only to touch a switch or wonder over an electronic device to feel as if I am about to accidentally set fire to a baby buggy.
In 2011, it appeared that we were failing on most every front in our attempt to live with greater simplicity in the lap of our Mother Nature, and make more out of less. What do we know? We have ElaGaia to thank for making it known to us that while our ancestors did well enough, evolution surely landed two hot potatoes with us. I should be ashamed to say that I went out in a downpour to plant an olive tree, and slipped into the mud myself; or that my hero husband wrestled with a bougainvillea vine – and lost. I should also be ashamed to admit that we moved into a hotel after HE left the door open and a terrified little snake slithered into our house. But I am not that ashamed! And I don’t know where those feeling of shame have gone unless they have fled some kind of crime scene. Instead, we are rather CURIOUS about what is in store for us now that we know what we are – two flailing idiots on a Greek mountain - and we know the this mountain has more – ever so much more to teach us.
Ama’s Grove….We have our neighbors to thank for bringing us into the fold as we join with them in the time-honored tradition of harvesting olive oil – a practice in our valley that has endured for 7,000 years. Argos boasts the oldest market square in Europe. Known in antiquity as the “bright land,” it is home, if not heartland to some of Greece’s notable antiquities, and Mother Nature has done her work very well in this neck of the woods with respect the Homeric Hymn to Mother Earth: “beautiful children and beautiful harvests are achieved from her….The giving of life itself….”
Ama’s Grove is an organic orchard consisting of fruit and olive trees. It is named in memory of my mother, Minnette Deloach Tittle, who cheered for me, her daughter, in the way that most football fans cheered for my quarterbacking Dad, Y.A. Indirectly, I have them to thank for a dream that now bears fruit. From such a dream as we had when we married in Greece so many moons ago, we are now pleased to bring our olive oil to our friends and neighbors at home in the U.S. For our other activities on a Greek mountain, please The Arete Institute for the Arts at arete-institute.com.
With our thanks, Dianne and Steve
A view of the valley in winter
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