SAFIkala High Quality Olive Oil from Crete
Crete: high potential, but a low profile agricultural region
Crete is considered to be the garden of Greece, but it could also be a key agricultural player at European level. It may not be widely known, but processions of tankers full of bulk olive oil leave our shores throughout the winter to supply other olive oil manufacturing countries from Southern Europe, in order to fill the gap between their insufficient production and their combined domestic consumption and export activities.
This Cretan olive oil is sometimes only just bottled, sometimes enhanced with added ingredients and re-filtered, but in any case always re-branded abroad with high-value positioning under a label that does not state its true geographical origin.
My key motivation to develop my own brand of olive oil was to change this and offer a high quality product proudly displaying its Cretan origin.
SAFI kala: "Everything's Well!"
ln the old Cretan dialect, "Safi kala" (Σαφή καλά) was the answer given to the question "how are you?" when everything was well.
When the economic crisis hit Greece and the morale of many of my fellow countrymen began to go down, I started to use that long gone phrase to cheer them up. The expression having a very old-fashioned flair as well as being typically Cretan, it had the immediate effect of putting a smile back on their faces. Having been identified with it in my village, I naturally came to this name for my range of products. Beyond the story behind it, this name conveys Cretan roots and tradition, as well as health and well-being, values I identify with and I aim for my products to encapsulate.
My SAFI kala Olive Oil is the first product I am selling under this brand, but I hope to include more in the future, if everything goes well indeed!
A Unique Location...
Here in Crete, Nature has granted us the best of its benefits. In my village in the South of the Heraklion prefecture, we have an average of 300 days of sunshine a year. The Libyan sea is just 2 miles west, but we are already in the Messara plain, at 1,430 feet high. The Psiloritis massif, the highest mountain on the island, whose peak reaches 8,057 feet, starts only 15 miles away.
... in the Fruit Garden of Crete
The Messara plain is also known as “the fruit garden of Crete”. The fruit farmed here are citruses (we have 4 varieties of oranges, 3 of lemons, and many kinds of clementines, mandarins and tangerines), apples and pears (with also many varieties), peaches, apricots, medlars, figs, pomegranates, quinces, grapes, and of course olives. Its fertile soil, sunny climate and water table quality has made the Messara plain a privileged agricultural area since the Antiquity.
An area of Nature conservation
The bay of Messara is a nesting area for the Loggerhead (Caretta Caretta) sea turtle. When they are ready to nest, female turtles instinctively come back to the beaches west of my village, where they were born themselves.
The Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece (ARCHELON) helps secure their nests by placing metallic cages above them, together with a sign in Greek, English and German to inform the tourists.
A site rich in history
The archeologic site of Phaistos is less than 3 miles away from my village.
It is the second most important Minoan site in Crete after Knossos, but unlike the latter, it hasn’t undergone any modifications from the archeologists, leaving it to visitors to imagine for themselves what the palace may have looked like in the Minoan times. This is the place where archeologists in the early 1900s discovered the Phaistos disk, significant in the history of humanity as representing one of the earliest writing systems, still ununderstood to this date.
Olive oil was already made here by the Minoans 2,000 years B.C.
Some of the trees in the region date back to the Minoan civilization, with the “Mother Olive Tree” of my village in Kamilari estimated to be 2,800 years old.
Minoan fresco representing an olive tree
(Heraklion Archeological Museum)
Mother Olive Tree of Kamilari
aged 2,800 years