People ask us every week, “How did you get into this business anyways?” or “How did you even meet a family in Greece?“
How It All Started
Ten years ago, while at a farmer’s market in Missouri, a Greek family browsed Karl’s organic vegetable booth, Healthy Harvest. After delighting in the taste of his produce, the families developed a lasting relationship, and a few months later, Karl planned his first trip to Sparta during harvest season.
Arriving in January, Karl visited several fourth-generation estates nestled in the foothills near Mount Parnon. Grapevines and solar water tanks dotted the roofs of each home and rows and rows of 160-year-old olive trees lined the orchards, branches heavy with plump, ripe koutsourelia olives.
Aging farmers carefully picked the fruit by hand, their fingers gnarled from decades of painstaking cultivation. Picking by hand rather than using machines means the olives are always perfectly ripe and never bruised when pressed, which produces the best flavor. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, these families use traditional organic methods and not synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides.
After picking, they immediately transported the olives to the local spigot to be washed and pressed. Since the farms are too small to export any oil on their own, they formed a cooperative. Combining thousands of years of wisdom with a state-of-the-art press, the co-op cold pressed the olives using no heat, chemicals, or foreign oils. This process guarantees an extra low acidity, full, rich olive flavor and the best nutritional value. The oil then gets bottled to be consumed mostly in the homes of Spartans. The rest? Karl agreed to buy the remaining crop to sell here in the U.S. where most of us have never had the pleasure of tasting a fresh, pure, unadulterated olive oil.
As a guest in the valley, co-op member families welcomed Karl into their home. Although money was scarce, pride remained plentiful – each person expressed deep satisfaction in continuing the tradition of sustainably tending the land to nourish their families for generations. Embodying true hospitality, every family graciously offered coffee and a bite to eat. Simple organic ingredients, exquisite flavor.
Just last year, Karl’s son Jake, visited so that he, too, might spend time on the farms strengthening relationships, attesting to the quality, and developing a deeper appreciation for the time-honored tradition of making superior olive oil.
Having been to the source, tasted the purity, and reviewed independent lab reports verifying its authenticity, Healthy Harvest has built its reputation on trust and transparency, educating market-goers on the fraud in the olive oil industry and how to look for the absolute best.
The search for the best never stops, and next year Karl will be visiting the 203-year-old estate in Tuscany, Italy where our newest olive oil, True Tuscan, is produced. Made from rare olives rich in robust, peppery flavor, it is truly a treat to see our friends faces light up when they taste it for the first time. We look forward to sharing tales from Tuscany in Spring.