Salt Spring Island is one of the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia between mainland British Columbia, Canada and Vancouver Island. This is where the first agricultural settlement of the Vancouver Island colony took place. Settlers living on Salt Spring Island were able to occupy and improve the land before buying it, and were allowed to buy it at a cost of one dollar per acre once they proved that the land was actually suitable for cultivation.
With just over 10,000 people, the island is known for its artists and the unique climate that encourages the cultivation of totally organic and local produce that is displayed at the farmers’ market every Saturday from April to October each year. Wine, fruits, vegetables, flours, and aromatic plants can be found in this peculiar market, along with another product that is native to the island which has been being sold here for the last several years – EVOO.
This EVOO comes from the Braun family’s farm, who, after a visit to the South of Spain, decided to take something that captivated them with them – olive trees and their EVOO. In order to do so, they bought Maurino variety plants in California to avoid problems at the border and started their dream. At the beginning, they planted nearly 1000 olive trees on the slopes of the Fulford Valley. The inclement weather, with dry summers and cold winter proved not to be too much for the plants, nor did the unexpected visits from deer feasting on their fruit.
In spite of everything, after harvesting their first crop of olives, this family decided to bet on this southern Iberian dream. Therefore, they planted another 1500 olive trees that shared land with blueberries, grapes, kale, garlic and some other cereals like wheat.
Today these truly unique olive trees, ones cultivated outside their comfort zone, are already in production. They produce an exceptional EVOO with intense, yet balanced fruitiness and with connotations of green almond, artichoke and freshly cut grass. The harvest must be early, so that the possible frosts at the end of autumn do not affect the harvest that these farmers work so hard to achieve. Despite the harsh of being a Canadian olive farmer, the emotional olive growing that they carry within them, which was inspired in Spain, continues to motivate them to have success.