People always ask how a girl from the Hague ended up on a Portuguese olive grove. So after telling it a couple of times I thought it would be time to write it down and explain a little where our journey is taking us.
It all started with my first love, my husband, Guilherme, and a little land where his (Passos) family originates from. Not knowing what to do with the land the family was advised to plant olive trees, since these are low maintenance. Boy, were they wrong! We started helping the family with harvest & pruning season to escape office life and enjoy the countryside of Portugal. Loving this so much, I went for some intensive courses to learn about olive oil production and became an olive oil sommelier. The year after we turned the farm upside down to start producing a higher quality olive oil. We started selling the oils on local dutch markets and soon the market weekends turned more fun than the full-time job so we decided we needed to follow our passion. Passeite, Azeite da familia Passos (olive oil from the Passos family) was born.
Producing olive oil however is for wealthy producers (in money or property) To get 1 liter of olive oil you need approx 5-15 kg of olives. It’s hard to explain in a short blog, but basically we knew we couldn't live of just 500 olive trees and needed an alternative plan. We decided to open up a restaurant in Coimbra, about 15 km from the farm and upcoming due to the UNESCO world heritage state. May 2016 Taberna do Azeite (the olive oil tavern) opened its doors. We brought our farm to the table...
In our transition of life our the first year in Portugal we were kneehigh in water, something that didn’t happen in 30 years. The year after was the hottest in decades and enormous parts of central Portugal burnt to the grounds, including parts of our ancient groves. Both these extreme weather conditions, being more close to nature & raising 2 kids made our view on live different. Climate change is real... We changed and that started with introducing mostly local and organic producers to our restaurant, reusing plastic bottles as olive fly traps and being much more creative with recycling old things.Thanks to Alexandra of New Dawn Traders we were introduced with sailing cargo and we knew this was the right path for our brand Passeite.
The first olive oil run from Porto to France and UK we couldn't participate fully since we had sold our olive oil harvest already. But with our network of amazing farmers throughout Portugal we found some other producers appreciating the journey and making the difference. We went to France and England with Caixeiro & Reigado. The logistics of this adventure is slightly more challenging, since we need to store the olive oil at lower temperatures we can’t just keep it in any warehouse until the ship arrives. When arriving with our cargo we got a warm welcome by 10 sailors. (Try to get a cheer from a truck driver picking up a pallet from the farm ) Lots of questions about the olive oil, we gave a little olive oil tasting and it felt like this is the way forward. The human scale of trading. We knew our oil would be in good hands with this crew being so interested and most likely tell our stories on their next journeys. The day ended with an amazing sunset, trading olive oil for chocolate & hot sauce and of course pizzas from the galley. I knew then our next harvest should be sailed to Scheveningen,The Hague. The town I was raised and has such a special place in my heart. A true bucket list thing helping my city to be more conscious and thinking about sustainable solutions.
So I asked Fairtransport to be part of this adventure with our mission, sending about 1000 liters. Although their schedule for 2018 was already fixed they made the effort to help. I started my Farm-Schip-Scheveningen adventure. A lot of the volume still isn't sold yet, besides finding people to buy we had to face many challenges of rebranding and packaging our olive oil in a more eco-friendly way.
We are confident we will be able to have more regular journeys and deliveries of products from Portugal. We have an amazing group of organic farmers willing to collaborate. It’s just a matter of finding a customer base wanting to become a part of this sustainable chain. We started the slogan “Love (y)our nature because it fits exactly what we stand for. Sending a incredible healthy products in a way that is good for (y)our nature...
With love from Marije &
the Passos Family