On our property we have eighteen Olive trees that have been a great blessing to our community and friends. Each year we hand pick all the olives. Because most trees are located in places difficult to get to, our harvest usually takes a few days till it is completed. Yet it has always been a great opportunity for our community to fellowship and enjoy each other’s company while we work.
The amount of olives we harvest differs each year, due to the measure of pruning we used the year before and the amount of rainfall. There are seasons of great abundance and seasons of less, but we have always been astonished about the quantity and quality of oil we received after pressing the olives.
Many locals and people from abroad, that have tried our hand picked and cold pressed “Extra Virgin Olive Oil,” have come back for more. It has found its use as anointing oil, in cooking, for massages, as well as treating skin irritations.
When we pressed our last harvest, the owner of the press and other farmers from the region wouldn’t believe our results in quantity and quality. Even though he presses 40tons of olives each day for about 4 months, he found our results outstanding. The only answer to this is: “God has blessed us.” Come and try, next time you are in Cyprus…
A short story about our annual Olive Harvest
We wake up early in the morning, to beat the hotter part of the day. We pack food, water and put on clothes made for a hard days work and possibly a splash of purple. We go on a partly wild and untamed land, and we meet as a community who has come for the same purpose, to harvest seventeen olive trees. We bring a very large thin green net, and we cover the ground under the olive tree with it. We have small hand rakes, long rakes attached to sticks, ladders and our hands and legs to climb into the trees themselves. There is something so incredible about the sound of an olive hitting the bottom of the bucket and then the sound of hundreds of olives being mixed into a container together. As we work into the deeper parts of the tree we are surrounded by a collage of green and purple olives, some large and ripe others small and not fully ready for the harvest. There is the sound of continuous conversation and laughter between friends and family. We take a break for lunch, and relax under our trees in the cool of the shade, enjoying each other’s company. As we pick the olives and put them in the crates, we make sure to work with a very gentle attitude, so that each olive is handled gently. When we have picked every last olive from the trees, we pour them into crates and stack the crates and drive them to the olive press in a nearby village. We never leave the same after an olive harvest, there is a sense of accomplishment and over all awe. To some it would seem tedious to pick one olive after another over the course of three or four days. But to us it is a task that we welcome every year with open arms. To do it alone is one thing, to do it with a family is another. And so we meet on our land, at the same time every year, and we spend three or four days together, harvesting olives, and working with our hands and seeing the fruit of something so small become something so great.
We have taken on the joyous challenge of tending to several beehives. Having started in March 2011, not really knowing what to expect, since we have never had any dealings with bees, we quickly fell in love with these amazing creatures. We started out with 3 colonies of the so-called “Superbee” which is very similar to the Buckfast bee in its origin. As hives we are using mostly “Langstroth” deep brood boxes and 2 “Dadant” Styrofoam hives. After a couple months God blessed us with 3 swarms and the reviving of one almost dead hive. So over the summer we had 7 hives. Besides the weekly check ups, any treatments, repairs and observations, a lot of times has been spent reading and learning about the trade. Not only do we get honey from the bees, but they also have a very positive impact on our vines and trees and any plants we plant, as they cross-pollinate. There is ongoing battles that we fight against mites, wasps, hornets, bee eating birds, moths and droughts that disables them to make honey. Yet in all this, we have still been blessed with beautiful, sweet and pure honey this fall. Come and taste…
A close friend of ours with diabetes has used our honey for quite some time now, since it is one of the few sweet things she can eat without an effect on her blood sugar level. We do not feed our bees with sugar water during there productive season nor do we add any preservatives or other substances to our outstanding product. It is 100% organic.
In a very humble and simple way we are learning this process of wine making, and are bound to give God all the glory for the result of this wine. It has been praised by several well known wine makers in Cyprus, and the results of the government controlled laboratory have been outstanding, quiet to the amazement of everybody involved. We very much enjoy the process and are excited to see how God is blessing the labor of our hands. After all, Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at the wedding in Kana…
Our “Commandaria” is made from the indigenous Xinisteri grapes, grown at the origin controlled Commandaria region of Cyprus. It is crushed and pressed at a local winery, that again is within the Commandaria region. Since we have not licensed our product, we are not allowed to call it Commandaria, though the process of its making is done in the very old traditional way.
Our unique wine is made from a single vintage and aged in French oak barrels for over 2 years. Its color is intense red – golden and on the palate it is sweet with a fruity hint and a long finish.
Commandaria is a sweet desert wine made from the indigenous Xinisteri and Mavro grapes. Its beautiful golden to caramel color, and its outstanding bouquet are unique and has been praised and enjoyed by kings, lords and common folk for many centuries.
Dried grape wine from Cyprus was first described in 800 B.C. by the greek poet Hesiod. In the 12th century, Richard the Lion Heart enjoyed it greatly at his wedding in Cyprus. He proclaimed it “the Wine of Kings and the King of Wines”.
The Knights Templar’s estate in Cyprus was known as the “Gran Commandarie” which later was known as Commandaria. When the knights imported this wine to Europe’s royal courts, it rose to international fame. Thus it is the second oldest named wine in the world still in production.
We have about 500+ vines at our land, that have been planted over 40 years ago. These well-aged and strong vines have been producing tremendous fruit, and the juice thereof is the basis for our wine.
The vines are grown organically, meaning, we do not spray any pesticides, nor do we use any chemicals to enhance the plant or fruit of it. Each vine is pruned by hand, the soil is tilled carefully and grapes harvested in September by our community.
The amount of grapes of the 2010 harvest was about 700 kg, which resulted in about 280 liters of wine. After a purifying process of regular transfer from one tank to another, the wine is now aging in an oak barrel until at least the Summer of 2013, and will then be bottled.
We currently own a 500 liter used fermentation tank and some small items needed. We are receiving lots of help from 2 local wine makers, that are thrilled to see young “foreigners” being passionate about their Cyprus wine. We are learning many things from them.
We do need to purchase several items to be able to continue with what God has given to us. Please check our “How to help” site, to see how you can become a part of this endeavor.
A short story about our annual Grape Harvest
As we stand on the edge of the landing of vineyards, with a pair of scissors and a container in hand, we survey our task for the next couple of days. Hundreds and hundreds of vines that are mixed and tangled together forming a large and overgrown jungle like setting. We each pick one line, and start from the front and one by one we search the vines for clusters of ripe and full grapes. We can spend several hours on one line in the vineyard, constantly having to empty the containers because of the abundant harvest. Sitting there lost in the jungle of vines, picking cluster after cluster, you can smell the grapes as they are being harvested. It is a sweet scent that catches you as you work, and every once in a while you may find yourself sampling a grape or five. We are never alone in this harvest, but are surrounded on every side by people laughing, talking, singing and enjoying the time of doing this annual harvest together. As we harvest each individual vine, we are never surprised to go back down a row that was already finished, to find that more clusters were hidden even deeper in the vineyard. When we have finished harvesting them, we stack all of our crates together and load them onto the truck. We drive them onto the top level of our property and unload the crates. We lie out a long sheet of fabric and gently pour the grapes onto the fabric, and spread them out evenly over the entire piece of fabric. And then we leave them there for ten days. During that time we are fervently praying for no rain and for animals to be kept away from the grapes as they soak in the Middle Eastern sun. After ten days, we go back, and with the softest touch we pick up each cluster individually and lay them gently in the crates without carrying with us any rocks, dirt or leaves from the ground. We stack the crates into the truck and we drive them to a winepress in a local village nearby.
There the grapes are crushed and are pressed. It is so exciting to see the first juice run out into the catch basin and then more and more is coming. It takes several hours of carefully pressing with every increasing pressure and force, until the last drops have ceased to fill the container. Every single grape is being crushed. We then take the barrels with the juice home and the fermentation process is starting. Fermentation is the process where the sugar in the juice is turned into alcohol through yeast. We don’t add yeast from outside, but let the naturally present yeast in the juice do the work. Because of the 10 days in the sun, the alcohol content is higher then in other wines, as there is more sugar turned into alcohol. After about 40 to 50 days we transfer the wine into another container, as the fermentation is finished, for purification purposes. We do that every 2 months for about 4 times, before we transfer it the last time into an oak barrel, where the wine will age and mature in flavor for at least 2 years before bottling.
Even though I knew that it is something that the Lord had dropped into my heart, and I can see the beauty of it, and the practical aspect of having them, there remained a question in me about the deeper significance for us to have sheep. This is not going to make a lot of money for us, yet we can beautifully implement it in the discipleship program and teach the children through it all. Especially since I saw all the costs, time, restrictions and work that was connected to that, I wanted to see some deeper meaning. So as I was praying and just asking this question once again, I clearly heard the Lord speak to me: “This is to be a constant reminder of the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” These words came with power and touched me so deeply. Still when sharing it, I feel His presence.
I have never thought of it that way! I always looked at it from a more practical side and from using it for teaching and discipleship.
Once this revelation hit me, everything made sense. Getting the sheep into our fold was not “a walk in the park.” With every step that we took things became more difficult and impossible. Keeping the sheep wasn’t much easier! Christmas eve 2012 our sheep were scattered into the mountain range by wild dogs. We didn’t find them for 7 days till through a miracle the Lord returned them all to us. Finding enough feed or somebody to teach hoe to shear them and many other things have not been easy.
The Lord spoke to me that bringing the lost sheep of the house of Israel into the fold won’t be easy either. It takes contending and an unrelenting heart to see the breakthrough come, and this process of getting our actual sheep is a picture of that.
We are provoked by the Lord to position ourselves in more fervent intercession and contending for the people of Israel. The sheep are just a reminder to us, a prophetic picture not to relent, give in or give up. The Lord wants to fully restore His people and make them inherit the promises. We are living in the days of the restoration of Israel into her destiny and calling.
Once again we understand that the lesser part of our vision is the farming of the land. The Lord is just using these things as tools to reveal His heart to us and make us understand His ways. What an exciting God we serve! Please agree with us, both for the lost sheep of the house of Israel to come in.
The Land offers us many opportunities and possibilities, one of which is to grow things. Besides all the wonderful Olive trees, vines, fruit trees, and our herb garden, we also started a vegetable garden. This year we had a rich harvest of tomato, zucchini, corn, salad, eggplant, cucumbers, beans, peppers and other veggies. It has been a blessing to our community and another opportunity to learn how to sustain life very practically. It is all about learning and growing.
During the first months of the year the cabins serve as student housing for our discipleship school as well as our annual ten days youth gathering during the summer months.
For the remainder of the year, we do welcome visitors who would like to draw away for a few days and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere on our land and the surrounding countryside. It is the perfect spot for a restful and quiet vacation.
Our cabins are designed for 2-4 people and include a small bathroom, kitchenette with living room space, and one bedroom.