Peasant Autonomy
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Story 153

Castellón, Spain – 2006

The tree of grandpa

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Caroline Ingram)

Olive tree, Spain.

Alma is desperate. A few months ago grandpa stopped talking, and now he also doesn't eat. Alma loves her grandpa. When she was a little girl, they were always together. She could tell him everything. He always laughed and never became angry with her. Together, they walked through the olive orchard with the gnarled old trees. Grandpa told Alma everything about the trees and showed her to plant, graft, and look after an olive tree. Even though she is seventeen, she still loves grandpa so much.

It all started last year. A contractor wanted to buy one of the ancient olive trees. Thirty thousand euro he offered. Everywhere in Europe and even in Japan, there was demand to decorate parks and buildings with the century-old trees.
Grandpa was totally against it. “I will not sell it,” he shouted. “I cannot sell it because it is not from me. These trees were passed down to me by my father, who received them from his father, who again has received them from his father, and so on. They are not from me but from my family. Not from my family but from the history. The trees are my life. You want to take away my life.”
Alma’s father became furious. “We have always toiled here as slaves and never received a penny. Finally, we can make some money from our work, and you want to block it. Think about your children for once and not just about yourself!”

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Willy Verhulst)

Olive tree, Spain.

A few months later a big excavator had come to dig up the most picturesque tree. A semi-trailer truck took it away. Alma had stood there with tears in her eyes. Grandpa looked dazed, like he had been slapped in the face. Soon he stopped talking. Instead, he wandered around the orchard in search of the tree, like a father looking for his lost child. Grandpa seemed to have lost his hearing even when Alma spoke to him.
Grandpa also stopped eating. Alma knows what she has to do. She will search for the tree, buy it back, and return it to the farm. Grandpa has to get his tree back as soon as possible. It is the only way to save him.


The feature film The Olive Tree (2016) by the Spanish director Icíar Bollaín tells the tale of tradition and progress, of loss and hope, and of indestructible bonds.

Go to:
= the next page: The young shaman - Mato Grosso do Sul, South-west Brazil – 2008, story 154.
= the Table of contents, story 153.