May 23, 2006
Tuesday, 23 May, from 130-300, the Mission Olive Preservation, Restoration, and Education Project is holding an open house and special viewing of North America’s Mission Trail video at the Sonoma County Library, 755 North Napa Street, Sonoma, California.
Two-hundred years ago, most of the twenty-one missions that stretch the length of California, from San Francisco de Solano to San Diego de Alcalá, included their own olive groves. Today, only one grove remains, but from the thirty-seven trees that managed to survive, the Mission Olive Preservation, Restoration, and Education Project (MOPREP) has propagated over 1000 new trees now growing from Salinas to Los Angeles, Sonoma to Santa Cruz.
The public is invited to an open house and special showing of North America’s Mission Trail video. MOPREP members will be there to discuss the work they’ve done to preserve and restore the olive groves at many of the California missions, including Sonoma and General Vallejo’s home, Lachryma Montis, and how the public can help with future projects.
Rarely within the mission walls, olive trees were usually planted outside, closer to a consistent source of water. Unfortunately, between the time the Missions were secularized by the Mexican government in the 1830s and contemporary restoration efforts, which have been focused on the missions themselves not on their agricultural legacy, most of the original groves have died from neglect, were built over, or were simply lost and forgotten.
In 1998, Gabrielle Leonhard found the Mission La Purisima grove and organized MOPREP, a nonprofit project dedicated to finding and restoring any remaining Mission olive groves; propagating truncheons and cuttings from the La Purisima grove, from which over 1000 new trees have resulted; providing support and expertise in replanting Mission groves that, eventually, will allow each mission to produce its own sacramental and commercial oil; educating the community on the cultural, historical, agricultural, and nutritional importance of olive oil; and raising funds for MOPREP to continue its restoration efforts, to DNA and date test various groves as they are discovered and to develop educational materials.
Using the same methods as the padres did to bring the olive trees from Spain to Baja to Alta California, each MOPREP tree is grown from truncheons or cuttings taken from the only known remaining Mission grove. (Truncheons are twelve to fourteen-inch logs propagated for several months in warm, wet sand until they sprout and can then be transplanted to pots or into the ground.)
Contact Ron Chapman, MOPREP President, at 707-996-8984