Local olive oil producers from Lesvos helping their island recover

olive oil

Nothing enhances a salad better than good quality olive oil, one of the healthiest ingredients in the world. A staple in the Mediterranean diet, enjoyed drizzled as part of a dressing, in cooking, and for dunking fresh bread. This liquid gold can also be found in anything from moisturisers, cosmetics and medicinal products. Even the act of pouring it out of a bottle or large tin has a feel good factor.

Greeks take pride in their olive oil. One of the oldest olive trees in the world, the olive tree of Vouves in Crete is believed to be over 3,000 years old. Australians have also been catching on to the benefits of olive oil, consuming over 40,000 litres last year.

The island of Lesvos has unique olive tree varieties that do not exist in other olive producing areas, in particular the variety known as Kolovi that yield an abundance of olive oil of exceptional quality. Olive oil producers called these trees Modousa. The Modousa olive groves are privately owned by farmers and families and have been passed down for generations.

olive oil Lesvos

Amongst these proud producers of olive oil is a community in Gera Bay, which have formed the Modousa commumity co-operative to revive the island’s olive oil production,  strengthen local food production and food autonomy and use olive production as a driver for the island’s economic recovery.

Greek-Australian business woman Myrsini Bougoukas who was born in Lesvos, came across the Modousa co-op while visiting the island last year. “I was impressed at the commitment these people had, and the knowledge and passion for the olive groves,” she says. “I felt overwhelmed seeing families united and working together to overcome Greece’s crisis. They are growing in size and from Gera Bay Olive Groves where it started more families around Lesvos are joining in the co-op.”

Like most people from Lesvos, Bougoukas has a tremendous love of her island and also wanted to educate Australia about it. “The refugee stories have caused a lot of havoc to the island. And in many cases they were wrong and exaggerated,” she says. “Nevertheless, this caused the tourism to go to an all time low. I want to show that it is a very fruitful and abundant island.”

Feeling compelled to contribute to the success of these hardworking people, Bougoukas, along with her husband Spiro, began her venture in taking and selling the product to Australia and New Zealand.  “I love the product, the people and the customer response after they taste the oil,” she says. “I love my very humble and small part in the growth of the Modousa co-op and Lesvos. The other reason I got involved, without being biased, is that the taste and quality is incomparable.”

Characterised by rich, fruity aromas, the oil has a mild and sweet aftertaste, it’s golden in colour and rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Its unique flavour comes from the hundreds of herbs native to their olive groves.

Syntoisalis is the first 500ml “Premium Press” Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. “It is an amazing elixir full of flavour, great for use as an antioxidant for good health and longevity you can take 1 tablespoon first thing in the morning,” says Bougoukas. “It is also suitable in salad dressings, topping or simply adding to gourmet breads to embrace the aroma and taste.” Modousa is the 750ml Organic Extra Virgin Oil which comes from the second harvest and is more versatile and suitable for general cooking as well as salads.

The feedback in Australia so far has been very impressive, with many gourmet shops and Italian delis enthusiastically stocking it on their shelves, particularly in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. The oils are currently available for purchase at numerous fruit markets and delis in Sydney and Melbourne.

For more information visit the Modousa Facebook page


Gina Mamouzelos

Gina is a third generation Greek Australian who grew up immersed in her Greek heritage, including the language, traditions, culture and listening to her grandparent’ mesmerising tales about life in Greece. Passionate about ensuring the Greek language is not forgotten among the younger generations, in 2002 she became a panel member on the SBS Greek radio show ‘Let’s Talk Openly.' She graduated with a Media and Communications degree from the University of Sydney and has put her lifelong passion for writing to use working in social media, public relations and advertising. Gina now joins GCT's team as a writer.