Badger Bill’s story about his family’s 2007 visit to Soler Romero, Badger’s Olive Oil grower and producer in Spain.
Years ago, Katie and I went to Spain to the Soler Romero olive farm in Spain. Badger purchases about 10,000 gallons per year of Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and we felt that it was important to know both the producers of this oil and the land that it grows on.
Enrique, his brother Manolo and his two sisters Anna and Isabella, are from a family that has been cultivating this same land for six generations. In line with “modern methods” of olive tree cultivation, this farm, like most of the olive farms of southern Spain, began employing the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides back in the 60’s to support “good yields and good economics”. But about 30 years ago, Enrique looked at the water and the oil and the land and said, “No more.” They returned to traditional methods of olive cultivation that had been sustainable and successful for thousands of years. The initial result was reduced contamination, along with more labor costs and lower income. But the world is catching on and now the grove is able to command top dollar for the superior quality and the uncontaminated nature of this fabulous oil.
Enrique says, “The only thing we bring onto the farm now, is goat manure from my sister Isabella’s 1000 goats. And the only thing that leaves the farm is oil. The rest we recycle and compost.”
They combine the goat manure with the leaves and stems from the gathered olives, leftover pulp from olive pressing, and the water used to wash the olives. They produce rich dark compost that they apply to the soil.
There is more.
It is now traditional in Spain to work the soil around olive trees until it is bare of all growth. Modern farmers believe that this allows the little rain that falls to water the olive trees alone. On this farm, however, they encourage the growth of a cover of native herbs and grasses. They believe that this stabilizes the soil to prevent erosion and that there is a synergy… that the herbs and the trees exist in harmony.
Certainly, the herb cover helps to sequester water and prevent rapid evaporation of the rain when it does fall. The results are naturally healthy trees, healthier workers and safe, tasty, and therapeutically superior oil for use in our balms.
I thought they might be critical of our using this food-grade oil for a product that you put on your skin. But they said no. “Everyone knows that Olive Oil heals. You get a cut, you put Olive Oil on your skin and it will heal. You apply it to babies to heal a rash, and adults use it for beautiful hair and for healthy skin. We laid out a selection of Badger balms and explained that they were composed of 75% of Soler Romero’s precious oil. They joked that the balms had “Come home to their parents!”
Depending on the age and size of the tree and upon other factors such as yearly rainfall and temperature, the average yield of a tree is about a gallon of oil. Think about it: 10,000 gallons equals 10,000 trees. Someone has to harvest the olives from each of these trees. They need to get the olives to the factory as soon as possible as freshness equals quality. They need to clean, crush and separate oil from water and pulp. 10,000 gallons represents extensive work and care by many people over time and this is to be honored and respected! Plus, we are very proud that our purchase of this oil at a fair and increased price allows and supports this organic cultivation. This means, clean ground water, improved worker health, healthier environment, and a quality product for our Badger fans to apply with confidence.
Badger believes in “The Natural Way.” This means, we walk a healthy trail from the source of our raw materials, through the Badger place of healthy business, and out into the world again as Badger Balm, filled with magic, power, and light. We are trying to find a new way, similar to an ancient time when life was more in harmony with nature. Yet we are trying to walk a new path too, where modern intelligence harmonizes with this true path of nature. This is a long trail, and we are committed to walking it.
We will try to visit and get to know all of our suppliers over the years. We feel this is more important than just having the letters of certification and scientific analysis we conduct. Mutual knowledge, respect, and care for each other and for the land is the basis for long-standing relationships and for developing ecological and ethical business far into the future.
That’s what we’re all about. Having fun, being kind and generous, living ecology, finding fanatical quality and devoting total commitment to rediscovering “The Natural Way.”