December 01, 2007
At Sonoma Mission’s annual Blessing of the Olives, on Saturday, 1 December, Karen Guth, of Pasolivo and Willow Creek Olive Ranch, and Samantha Williams, at Homewood Winery, will receive the 2007 MOPREP (Mission Olive Preservation, Restoration, and Education Project) Award.
Karen Guth, a prize-winning grower/producer of Pasolivo olive oils, was selected for both her determination to establish California as a major force in artisan oils and for her dedication to preserving the agricultural legacy of California’s missions.
While there are a number of excellent oil producers establishing California’s [inevitable] dominance in the artisan market, “Karen’s vision is unique.” said Dolores laGuardia, MOPREP Vice-President. “Not only has she worked with the California Olive Oil Council to establish production standards and to educate the public’s palate, but her generosity is truly inspiring. Literally, every new grower or producer I meet acknowledges her valuable advice.” Most recently, without saying a word, Karen took it upon herself to spray, prune, and generally condition the mission’s grove. She just did it. Restoring the Mission San Miguel grove has been MOPREP’s priority for some time. “We just needed the money to do it.”
Speaking of which…. Most of the money MOPREP has raised has been through the efforts of another equally determined, equally dedicated California woman, Samantha Williams at Homewood Winery.
Samantha invites MOPREP to participate at every Homewood event and sells its heritage trees to winery visitors, without which this small nonprofit organization could not have propagated over 1000 trees, could not have restored the laPurisima grove (the only confirmed Mission-era olives planted over 200 years ago), could not have preserved olive groves at Sonoma, Soledad, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Carmel, and Santa Inés, and could not have planted a truncheon tree (propagated and planted exactly as the Franciscan’s had so long ago) in Sacramento at the State’s capitol. “Samantha and Dave Homewood have given MOPREP its roots,” said Nina Keene, MOPREP Treasurer.
With the help of people like Karen Guth and Samantha Williams, the Mission Olive Preservation, Restoration, and Education Project will enter its second decade confident in its goal of providing heritage trees to all missions that want them, of developing educational materials for California’s fourth graders so their study of the missions will also include their gardens, and of identifying, restoring, and preserving any other surviving heritage groves will become a reality.
There is much to do and MOPREP needs the public’s help to restore groves at the remaining fourteen missions and to research the botanical provenance of the Mission olive, in both senses of the word -- olives brought from Spain and grown at the California missions and the Mission olive variety. For the Mission olive variety no longer exists in Spain, thus it has become the only native California olive. MOPREP is currently raising money for participation in next year’s LA county fair, where there’s potential for reaching over a million California fourth graders, all of whom study mission history. How exciting it would be for them to have their own tree, a living piece of California history with the exact DNA as the original trees planted over two hundred years ago.
MOPREP can ship trees anywhere in California, and individuals can purchase heritage trees at a local fairs and festivals. Each tree is numbered and registered and ranges from $25 to $45, depending on size.
More volunteers are always welcome, and MOPREP needs everyone’s support. Contact the Mission Olive Preservation, Restoration, and Education Project through its website at www.moprep.org or call Ron Chapman, President, at 707-996-8984 or Dolores laGuardia, Vice-President, at 408-992-0136.