On January 12th 2022, the world welcomed a brand new olive oil bar – only the 4th in existence – in downtown Sousse, Tunisia. Say hello to Harvest Lab, the brainchild of Clever Harvest co-founder Soraya Hosni!
Harvest Lab is set in a historic building that was once the old city’s olive oil mill; even the street name, Rue Al Maassar, refers to the mill. It’s been beautifully restored as part of the cultural preservation initiative The New Medina, and has all the atmosphere and design finesse of a boutique experience.
But this isn’t just a place to sample superlative oils. “Harvest Lab is an experiential, educational space for the future of food,” affirms Soraya, “and to discuss the hottest topics of the moment.”
Olive Oils Galore
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know by now that there’s more to olive oil than meets the eye. Variations in terroir, varietal, agricultural technique, maturity of fruit, method of milling, and more, all contribute to differences in flavour and even chemical properties. Creating opportunities to appreciate these qualities is a game-changer for artisanal production.
Read more: Talking Terroirs
But Harvest Lab is also a non-profit community space where visitors can learn about best practises in olive oil production, gain valuable insights into the industry, and attend events, training seminars, and meetings with some of the all-stars of the olive oil world.
According to Soraya, “We’ll bring people from the whole supply chain, whether policy-makers, industrialists, farmers, from A-Z – the whole value chain is welcome. We’ll curate programming to cater to people’s needs and questions in order to improve their production and livelihood and to put them in touch with global, up-to-date research.”
The audience at the launch was a select list of industry leaders and government officials who were present to witness this landmark moment. We had virtual presentations by the president of the International Olive Council, Abdellatif Ghédira, and the executive director of the North American Olive Oil Association, Joseph Profaci.
Among the presenters were the Public Affairs Officer of the US Department of State in Tunis, Erica Thibault, and former executive director of the Californian Olive Oil Council, Patricia Darragh. And of course, the Clever Harvest team were out in force!
Read more: The Doyenne of Olive Oil
Traceability, Your New Best Friend
Until now, it was almost impossible to get a true gauge on an olive oil’s properties, unless you happened to have a certificate as an olive oil sommelier. Buyers were reliant on what the producer chose to reveal on their label, as any traceability data required by governments stayed with the governments.
The distinguishing feature of Harvest Lab is our particular focus on olive oil that has full traceability using the Clever Harvest platform. This offers an unprecedented amount of data about olive oil, which not only informs consumers about what they’re consuming, but also showcases producers and mills that go above and beyond in their practice.
Among the olive oils currently stocked at the Harvest Lab are Olissey, an organic extra virgin olive oil lovingly produced at a family-run farm near Tunis that recently won a gold medal at the Tunisian Olive Oil Quality Awards for the nation’s best extra virgin olive oil. Their whole process is traced using the Clever Harvest app, and consumers can get the full picture by scanning a QR code on the bottle.
Incentivizing Best Practises
As the world wakes up (albeit slowly!) to the importance of sustainable agricultural practises, traceability offers farmers an incentive to uphold best practises, in the knowledge that their efforts won’t go unnoticed. And Tunisia has a lot to teach to rest of us in this sense: 95% of olive production in the country is organic, making it one of the most sustainable olive-producing nations in the world.
Read more: Arab Women in Olive Oil
The Clever Harvest application not only stores information about production in a foolproof blockchain, it also offers farmers tools to coordinate their production. This helps Tunisian olive oil producers to avoid delays at mills, raising the overall standard of olive oil and offering farmers a better chance of a competitive product.
With Harvest Lab, we hope to shine a light on this small but mighty olive-oil producing nation, and to bring together members of this rich global industry. Already, we’ve seen how proud our Clever community of farmers and millers are that the fruits of their labor have finally been given a dedicated space to elevate and celebrate their work.
We’re looking forward to your visit!
HOW TO FIND US:
The New Medina,
1 Rue Al-Maassar