The Olive Connection from Sparta to St. Louis

by Nancy Smith,

secretary, Farm to Family


It was at a Healthy Planet Natural Living Expo that I first tasted the olive oil offered by Olea. That oil really knocked my socks off. The lightness, freshness, and wonderful olive flavor were so full of pure quality that I knew we had to get Olea olive oil for Sappington Farmers Market.

Later, when Olea brought samples to the store and I tasted the fresh olives and even the brine in which they are cured, I was even more determined. Yesterday, I am happy to say, that plan came to fruition. Sappington Farmers Market now has Olea olive oil and fresh olives.

Nicholas Chronis purchased the 25 acres that are Olea Estates in 1856, and his grandson still cares for the trees and helps harvest the olives. George Chronis, great-grandson of Nicholas, lives in the St. Louis area and was fortunate to meet Karl Burgart, proprietor of Healthy Harvest Gardens, at the Kirkwood Farmers Market. The two bonded over Karl’s fresh vegetables, and formed a partnership so that Karl could become Olea Estates’ sole distributor in the United States. Every year, the fabulous olives and olive oil make their way on a slow boat across the ocean to America and then move inland to Karl, who then labors diligently to make sure that as many St. Louisans as possible are able to experience the astonishing purity and quality of Olea olives and olive oil.

Last November, Karl was able to journey to Greece and immerse himself in the life and work on the estate. He gained a first-hand knowledge of what goes into the production of these products. In the coming year, he plans to go to Greece twice. There is a lot to learn, and he is a willing worker.

While the price may be slightly higher than run-of-the-mill olives and olive oil, one taste is all it takes to convince a person that the products are decidedly worth the cost. Like many pure, organic, high-quality foods, both the olives and olive oil taste “like they’re good for you.” There is an immediate recognition that the person who is eating them is doing something wonderful for her body. The fruity lightness of the oil makes it a perfect salad dressing, or accompaniment to steamed vegetables, and eating bread dipped into the oil and the olive brine is an experience of simple goodness. Eating Olea products is a culinary adventure that is both beneficial and delicious. They’re worth the wait.

Sappington Farmers Market is at 8400 Watson Road, between Elm Ave and Laclede Station Road.