How it Began
The Tuscan Grove is the culmination of a love affair I (Simon Fraser/The Tuscan Kiwi) have with Tuscany. On the first couple of trips (almost 9 years ago now) I was introduced to the nicest people you will ever meet. Welcoming and full of life! They became like family and showed me the true Tuscan life style, which turned out to be very close to my beloved home of New Zealand.
This started a passionate love affair with Tuscany and the growth of my dream to one day move and work from here. Moving on 8 years, and with the amount of time I was now spending in Tuscany, it was inevitable that I would finally take the plunge and move to Tuscany. I was smitten. The people, the wine, the food, the lifestyle, the mountains, the beaches and of course…the sun. Also, with the 1 hour time difference, working with England is extremely easy.
The catalyst came when the Villa belonging to very good friends of mine (indeed the very man who first invited me to Tuscany) and where I had stayed on numerous occasions became available, I had to have it. It was unexpected, a tad more than I planned, but worth every penny. So, I took the plunge. After all, life is to live, love and enjoy – The Tuscan way of life. It just so happened that this choice, came with a massive 120 acres of land and 650 olive trees. Which I knew about… sort of. But that’s another weird story, best told in Tuscany over a glass of red.
So Why Restore this Olive Grove?
The olive grove has not been working since before the villa was renovated. It is there, and you can walk some of it, but a LOT of it is overrun and let’s just say nature has reclaimed her. While walking through the grove with the Gardner, I was fortunate enough to meet people who worked on it back in the day. I was introduced to them and the passion they had for the work was inspiring. They LOVE olive oil and, like many artists in Italy, it had to be perfect. They are a group of amazing people. They told me of the work back in the day and how it used to (along with other olive groves that have since been cut down – such a waste) be a big employer for the area and how the locals are now struggling to find full time work. Many of them only really worked doing one thing, and they are passionate about it. After walking with them through the grove, listening to them and sharing a glass of two of wine, I knew I had to not only restore this grove, but grow it…somehow.
Realistically, after looking at the start-up costs, there was no way I could do this. The villa needs a fair bit of work to make sure it is still the beautiful villa I know. I had already committed to the renovation. Repainting, redecorating throughout, putting in massive solar panels to keep costs down and more. The gardens alone, so people can walk through the 120 acres and amble through the local birds, flowers, trees and other flora, will take a while. In reality it would have been 5-6 years before I could have even THOUGHT about restoring the olive.
There was just no way to get the olive grove done by myself. Which was depressing, because it is a great idea and will employ lots of people, extend my own dream …. and it’s an olive grove in Tuscany…. so olive oil to die for! There had to be a way to make this happen.
Thinking Outside the Box
After talking to some friends over a ‘few’ bottles of Brunello, we thought about how we could get this done. I said “really how hard can it be. It’s just one tree … 5000 times. I will start with one tree and go from there.” Then they all offered to pay for a tree each, jokingly of course. We had that moment when I said, “great that’s 4 trees down, only 4996 to go!!!” We laughed… Stopped laughing… and all agreed…. Actually, this could work! Just like that, the tree sponsorship program was born!
This was how I was going to restore the olive grove, grow it and make it into a functioning business that supports the local workers full time year-round!
So now we had the how, now we need the who. And if you have reads this far down my “How it Began” … I am hoping you are now one of the “who”
We are restoring this olive grove with one sponsor at a time. So please be one of those sponsors and cli below to choose a package. The Tree Fanatic package (6 trees) comes with a luxury week for two Villa Marae, so you can come on holiday, see your trees and listen to the story on how I only ‘Sort of knew about trees on the property I had just bought and the extra 20 acres that nobody knew about’ (It’s an Italian thing) over a glass of red as promised.