Lenia Ziglaki was an architectural draughtswoman and her late business partner George Konstantelias was a chief marine engineer when they decided to follow a different life journey and devote themselves to the cultivation of Chios Mastiha and olive trees.
From that decision grew a unique concept Adopt Chios Trees in which anyone can donate and adopt a tree in Chios from which Ms Zigalki provides an annual gift of 50g natural mastiha harvested from the adopted tree, an adoption certificate and a photograph of the tree with a uniquely branded sign for the client.
The Mastiha is unique to Chios and in particular to southern part of the island. There is a lot of work involved in preparing a tree to produce mastiha including pruning the tree, fertilising the soil, weeding and spreading white clay over the base as well as piercing the bark and washing the resultant mastiha drops. The work of looking after the olive trees to harvest and press the fruit for oil is just as demanding.
A Chios native, Ms Ziglaki’s family harvested mastiha and she grew up with the scent of mastiha in the home as it was prepared and cleaned to be delivered to the Chios Mastiha Growers’ Association.
As Ms Ziglaki and Mr Konstantelia’s work drew notice, so more people in southern Chios looked to them to maintain and cultivate the trees on their land.
“People around us entrusted us with their own deserted fields. In their own words (they said): “we are excited to see our trees alive and productive.’”
“It is a very powerful feeling when you see trees taken care of, well-groomed and ready to offer their fruit. And the people of Chios value this a lot,” said Ms Ziglaki on the Adopt Chios Trees website.
The project was launched in 2019 with the aim of strengthening people’s connection with the island’s trees and to strengthen the cultivation of Mastiha, a traditional method of cultivation that has been included in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.
♦ Visit Adopt Chios Trees for more information.