Amanda and Marco
Olivando was founded in 2020 by the accidental farmers, husband and wife Marco & Amanda. Olivando focuses on estate-produced, hand-harvested, cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Umbria.
Olive trees surround our estate, which has been in Marco’s family for four generations. Some of our trees are more than 300 years old, some were planted by Marco’s grandfather Vicenzo, and some by his uncle Luigi.
When we first arrived in Italy from Oklahoma we were focused solely on our destination wedding photography and planning business, Simonelli Studio. Eventually, we made our way to Umbria, a relatively undiscovered region with a lot to offer (especially if you prefer to stay off the beaten path). The woods and olive groves around our home had been a little neglected over the years. The grass, bushes and vines were out of control. We started by cleaning up, one tree at a time. Initially, it was simply for the personal satisfaction of bringing the estate back its original splendor. We did it in our spare time. Then 2020 happened, and our wedding photography business was put on ice. So we decided to kick it up a notch.
Much of the initial lockdown was spent climbing trees with clippers and a saw, trimming branches, clearing some seriously spiky blackberry vines, or wrestling firmly adhered ivy off a tree trunk. Then came harvest season, and we were rewarded with an abundant crop. The experience of harvest, going to the mill, and tasting fresh pressed EVOO made us wonder, “where was this kind of olive oil in the states?” An idea was born. And since we had much more than we could consume, we decided to offer it to friends and family back home to see if they might be interested. We sold out in less than a month, and a new path unfolded. We dove headfirst into a crash course in navigating an entirely new (to us) industry and what a ride it’s been! We have a saying around here: “When life gives you olives – make olive oil!”
What we do
Getting the olive oil into the bottle is no easy task. It requires paying attention and understanding the messages given by the trees, the soil, and the entire ecosystem around us. It means dealing with the unpredictable changes in weather and mutating seasons. We are directly involved in every step of the process: pruning, harvesting, pressing, bottling, labelling, boxing, and exporting. It’s hard work being an olive oil producer, but we love what we do.
Sustainability is a layered word and requires being approached accordingly. We want the olives to be grown in a way that harmonizes with the surrounding environment, not in a way that changes it. What does that mean? It means no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. It means we hand pick our olives, using branch shakers, not tree shakers. There is a wide variety of grasses, weeds, and wildflowers that grow underneath the trees. It’s wild, and we like it that way. The bees we keep seem pretty happy about it too.
We also put a lot of thought into our packaging. We selected aluminum containers that are recyclable and produce the minimum amount of waste. By not using heavy glass bottles, we reduce the carbon footprint from shipping. Plastic bottles were never an option. There’s enough plastic in our oceans already.
Sustainability also means a lot to us personally. It means that with your purchase you help sustain not just our family but also the families of the local people that help us craft this olive oil.
We wish you could have met Marco’s grandfather, Nonno Cencio. When he would go to the mill to check on his olives he would warm up few drops of olive oil by rubbing his hands together to smell the fragrance of the new oil. We wish you could meet Aziz, who last fall taught us how to pick olives the Moroccan way, with no power tools – just a branch from the olive tree. Or perhaps you could meet Giacomo, who followed his dreams and built a state-of-the-art olive oil press in the prettiest mountains of Umbria.
Driving around these hills you can see the skills and passion that every grower puts into taking care of their trees. It’s almost a beauty contest for pruners. Once, at an olive producers event, a fellow grower said something that summed it up. He pointed to the noisy crowd of attendees who were chatting during a break and said, “See, look at this crazy bunch. Once you decide to make olive oil, you become part of this club. They sure look happy, don’t they?”