Olive Groves

Lesvos is an immense olive forest. About eleven million olive trees spread in continuous olive groves followed by pine forests. There have always been three predominant kinds of trees on Lesvos: wild olives, pines and oaks. Wild olives had thick leafage and produced small fruit which was the main feeding element of wild birds visiting from around the world during winter time. It is believed that those birds through their waste helped to the spreading of wild olives not only on Lesvos and the other Greek Islands but to Asia Minor as well.

However, the main reason for the growth of olive cultivation is the destruction of vineyards by vine-pest (phylloxera) during the previous century. The inability to confront it with the help of existing means lead to their replacement by olive groves. Thus, through their efforts people of Lesvos spread the cultivation of olives in places were there were no pine trees. They built terraces on the slopes of the mountains in order to hold the earth from sliding even at the steepest sides while animals were carrying water to water the little olive trees to survive.


Lesvos has the finest weather conditions for the growth and cultivation of olives. First rains, when on time together with autumn sunlight and a mild winter create the perfect conditions for the right growth of the olive fruit. However, because weather conditions are not always perfect there are years with a good olive crop (maxouli) and years with limited production. (kisiri).

The main olive varieties on the island are:
a) Valanolia or Kolovi which is indigenous and can be found in soils rich in slate and altitudes of 500m. It covers 7/10 of the olive groves of the island and has a high olive oil content (25-30%) and 
b) Adramitiani or Aivaliotiki coming from Adramiti in Asia Minor and covers 1/5 of the islands olive groves. It is cultivated mainly on the Mitylene district and is both edible and excellent olive-oil giver.


Olive cultivation is the main source of income of the people of Agiasos. The land owned by its inhabitants extends further from the boundaries of their municipality. The harvesting of olives begins in the Fall and finishes in the end of Spring. “Kolovi” is the variety cultivated in the area and the oil produced by it is of low acidity and excellent quality. In addition, Agiasos produces chestnuts, walnuts, apples, cherries, pears, sour cherries and grapes. In the year 1924 the government of N. Plastiras decided to distribute pieces of land belonging to the church and the municipality to landless peasantry giving a decisive boost to the cultivation of fruit. The people of Agiasos managed through a lot of personal work and effort to turn these newly acquired lands into fertile, fit for cultivation fields and orchards. Apart from the viniculture which has been eliminated through the years the rest of the agricultural products mentioned above are still cultivated and are thought to be the tastiest of their kinds and much preferred all over the island.

During the period between the two World Wars Agiasos became the centre of production and distribution of cereals, grain crops and legumes. Finally, during 19th and the 1st half of the 20th century Agiasos was a very important handicraft and commercial centre with a lot of small industries manufacturing olive oil (first with the old olive presses and after 1879 with steam-driven machinery). Spinning mills produced cloth used in olive oil extraction made by goat hair coming from Macedonia and Chalkidiki as well as long rugs made by local goat hair or fibers of Indian Hemp.