An olive garden promotes peace and cooperation

The Mayor of Zaragoza, Jorge Azcón, inaugurated this Tuesday, together with the Councillor for Public Services and Mobility, Natalia Chueca, the Secretary General of CIHEAM, Plácido Plaza, the Director of CIHEAM Zaragoza, Raúl Compés, and the President of the association 'The Garden of Peace', Francesco Serafini, the "Garden of Peace" in the Aljafería Park in Zaragoza. The new space, made up of 22 olive trees from different corners of the world, was created with the aim of creating bridges between cultures, promoting peace and cooperation.

The circular garden features olive trees from the Banco Mundial de Germoplasma del Olivo (Córdoba, Spain), representing 21 major olive-growing countries (Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Iran, Israel, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America), and are arranged in the form of a double ring around an olive tree from the city of Zaragoza of the empeltre variety, the main variety in Aragon, which occupies the centre of the plant group.

The 22 trees now enjoy privileged views of the Palacio de la Aljafería in the Aragonese capital, considered one of the peaks of Hispano-Muslim art and whose Mudejar art was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. "It is an ideal location for a project that promotes dialogue between cultures. In the shade of the olive tree, we can come together and nurture a renewed spirit of cooperation," said Francesco Serafini, president of The Garden of Peace.

The olive tree: strategic crop and symbol of identity in the Mediterranean basin

For an organisation dedicated to cooperation in the Mediterranean such as the CIHEAM, the "Garden of Peace" is a project full of symbolism that allows to further strengthen its links with the city of Zaragoza, where it was established more than 50 years ago. "In addition to its strategic value for the region's economy, the olive tree is a symbol of Mediterranean identity and fraternity. It also represents us as an organisation, as it is part of our institutional emblem", said CIHEAM's secretary general, Plácido Plaza.

For his part, the director of CIHEAM Zaragoza, Raúl Compés, highlighted the place of this Mediterranean crop in the organisation's activities. "The olive tree is the protagonist of many of our training and research activities, such as the International Masters in Olive Growing and Olive Oil Technology, which has been training professionals and technical and managerial staff in the sector for 30 years", said Compés.

Located on the Campus de Aula Dei, one of the most prestigious agricultural research complexes in Spain, the CIHEAM Zaragoza is now closer to the citizens and visitors of the Aragonese capital thanks to the new "Garden of Peace". "In this new space we hope to develop activities linked to our values and our mission of agri-food cooperation in the Mediterranean," said Compés.

A project of CIHEAM Zaragoza, Zaragoza City Council and 'The Garden of Peace'.

The "Garden of Peace" is the result of an agreement signed a few months ago between the Zaragoza City Council, CIHEAM Zaragoza and the association 'The Garden of Peace'. For the Mayor of Zaragoza, Jorge Azcón, "this agreement is another example of our willingness to collaborate with any initiative that is in line with the environmental sustainability that we have been developing over the years. Even more so when the values of tolerance, harmony and peace behind it".

So far, including the one in Zaragoza, there are 6 gardens in the world that have joined the initiative (1 in Italy, 2 in Greece and 3 in Spain), a network that hopes to expand soon to new countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Jordan.

Countries and olive tree varieties represented

The Garden of Peace in Zaragoza has an information table explaining the project and offering a list of all the olive varieties and their countries of origin. QR codes provide further information on the specific characteristics of each olive tree, as well as on the international project of the Peace Garden.

This is the full list of countries and varieties represented:

  • Albania: Mixani
  • Algeria: Chemlal de Kabylie
  • Argentina: Arauco
  • Cyprus: Kato Drys
  • Croatia: Lastovka
  • Egypt: Toffahi
  • Slovenia: Bugaç
  • Spain: Empeltre and Picual
  • USA: Mission
  • France: Verdale de l'Hérault
  • Greece: Koroneiki
  • Iran: Zard
  • Israel: Barnea
  • Italy: Frantoio
  • Lebanon: Soury
  • Morocco: Picholine marocaine
  • Palestine: Nabala Baladi
  • Portugal: Cobrançosa
  • Syria: Zaity
  • Tunisia: Chétoui
  • Turkey: Gemlik