Save my Olive Trees

There may be a solution against the deadly xylella bacteria. Will you help?

Will my dream turn into a nightmare?

When I bought my olive grove in Puglia, I had of course heard the stories about the deadly bacterium Xylella, which has already killed all olive trees in the south of Italy. But everyone in my area said/hoped that things wouldn’t turn bad, that the deadly disease would not reach our part of Puglia, or that a solution would soon been found. So I did what all the locals did, and did not think about Xylella; instead I just enjoyed my beautiful, centuries old trees.

What is Xylella?

The deadly tree disease is transmitted by an insect. As soon as it bites into a leaf, the Xylella enters the tree’s bloodstream, slowly closing its veins and drying out the tree from within. That is why everyone is required by law to mow under their olive trees. The idea is that if there is no grass or other vegetation, the insect would not move from tree to tree. But does that help?


The south of Puglia, near Lecce, has already turned into a desert landscape, a battlefield with dead trees everywhere. Despite the measures, Xylella travels about 2 km per month, 24 km per year. It’s unstoppable. A buffer zone could only be created by preventively cutting down large areas with trees. But of course, we don’t want to cut down healthy trees. Especially not if they are thousands of years old.

Xylella at TinyTrullo

And this week, suddenly, Xylella arrived in my country. The first dead branches, bare spots in the trees. I was scared to death. When I looked around me, I saw it in all the neighbours. Experts say this means that Xylella hasn’t just arrived but has actually been in the trees for about two years and you’re only now starting to see the first signs of dying.


I felt defeated, powerless. Google confirmed: there’s really nothing you can do about it. I kept thinking: this CANNOT be true. I can’t just lose all my trees… An what about this region, famous for its trees, for its olive oil? Everyone around me seems to resign to it, or tries to ignore it, or hopes for a miracle. I am soooo in love with my trees, I just can’t give it up. My land, all of Puglia, is nothing without those beautiful majestic centuries old olive trees.

A glimmer of hope

Through word of mouth I heard about an experiment from the company Invaio. With a small spray can of ‘vitamins’ that is applied to the sap stream of the tree, the bacteria is combated from within, allowing the ‘veins’ of the tree to open more. One of my neighbors had been using it for two months and some of his trees are showing promising results. In one case, new leaves appeared on a dried-up branch. I immediately made an appointment to treat my trees. At all costs, I want to try anything that may save them.

How you can help?

What can you do? Make me feel like I’m not alone in this and/or help me cover the cost of this experiment:

  • Pray, cross your fingers, burn a candle, send light to Puglia
  • Pre-order 1 or 3 liters of my delicious olive oil. Delivery in December.
  • Adopt an olive tree. Not only do you receive 5 liters of oil per year, but you get to name the tree, visit it if you want, plus you receive a cutting board from your own tree after pruning. With this you support the maintenance of the tree on a yearly basis.
  • Join the (perhaps last) inspiration trip to Puglia from 27-31 October.

Help me to fight, live and enjoy these beautiful trees.

Probability calculation

OK, it’s an experiment, results are not guaranteed. But Invaio has had encouraging results. Now they are looking to scale up to present their solution to the government. I have signed a contract so my land can participate in the experiment. I cling to this opportunity.
My feeling of powerlessness has turned into determination. Let’s try this, at least do SOMETHING.

You may be thinking: What if it doesn’t work? In that case I would have the same result as by doing nothing: dead trees. The right question is: what if it DOES work? Then it would make a world of difference: then my trees might survive. They are worth it.
At best, we might be helping to save the rest of the olive trees in Puglia.

Check out what measures I am taking, and which experimental medicines I am trying out in this follow-up blog.

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