Read the whole story of Bahar below
"Weather conditions, harvesting, motivating a team: everything has to go well to achieve a perfect result."
De Trilye, Ayvalik and Memecik of Bahar
Novavera's Turkish extra virgin olive oils are awarded and acclaimed worldwide. They are almost all medium oils with a balanced taste and aromas of green grass and apples. These olive oils are a perfect basis for a healthy Mediterranean diet. The Turks stir this oil through the rice, but also use it over roasted vegetables and in salads. The Trilye, Ayvalik and Memecik are olive oils, each with their own character.
The New Bahar
For Bahar (48), olive oil changed her life. Her company Novavera, or 'new spring', symbolizes the 'new Bahar': a woman who has been living in harmony with nature for five years and who produces healthy food at a high level. It is her mission to become the very best in making sustainable, nature-friendly olive oil and to distribute it as far as possible worldwide. She has only just come to see it, but has already won more than two hundred prizes within five years. Bahar's company specializes in producing olive oil of rare and local varieties. Novavera is Turkey's most awarded olive oil brand. I am curious how this power woman manages this and meet her in Ayvalik, the olive capital of Turkey. A coastal town on the Aegean Sea, dotted with beautiful old pine and olive trees and overlooking all kinds of Greek and Turkish islands. I'm in a holiday mood right away and can't wait to learn all about Turkish olive oil.
The liquid Turkish gold
Bahar is a beautiful woman; she radiates peace and wisdom and is proud to receive me in this romantic place, where there are olive trees that are more than three hundred years old. Although she has walked here hundreds of times, she is still in awe of this beautiful olive grove. After a long walk she takes me to a restaurant where she often has lunch when she is in Ayvalik. On the terrace I let myself be surprised by a delicious Mediterranean meal and I enjoy spiced rice and bulgur with onions, aubergine, lentils and lamb. Both the rice and the vegetables are generously sprinkled with the liquid Turkish gold: olive oil.
She has been working as a business consultant for seventeen years before starting her own consultancy business. Entrepreneurship made her happy, but her view of the world changes when she suddenly becomes ill a few years ago. “This moment in my life marked my decision to do something else. When I became ill I had to wait a long time for a diagnosis and this 'waiting time' ensured that I consciously took the time to think about what I really think is important in this life. Two things came up: nature and health."
An olive grove with 2000 trees
Fortunately, Bahar is soon completely healthy and can return to work. Wanting to live more in harmony with nature, she looks for a hobby that she can do outdoors. She decides to start an ambitious project in 2016: "I planted 2000 olive trees on an area of 20 hectares here in Ayvalik. It was intended as a hobby; I called it my retirement project." Why olive oil? Bahar tells me she was raised on gallons of olive oil. Her mother does not prepare a dish that does not involve olive oil. But she knows absolutely nothing about the growth of olive trees and the harvesting process. "I bought dozens of books because I wanted to learn more about olive oil production." At the time, she had no goal, dream or future prospects, but in retrospect, buying her first olive grove may have been the best thing she could do.
After all, the piles of books are just the beginning. Bahar is so inspired by everything she reads that she starts taking training courses. She travels to California for this. She soon discovers that she has a big problem: she may have an olive grove with 2000 trees, but no factory to press oil. “I decided in 2018 to rent a factory to make my own oil. This was quite a challenge, because everything had to be thoroughly cleaned first. I made the agreement that only my own oil could be pressed in this factory. Only then could I be sure that the olive oil met certain important criteria."
Acclaimed and awarded worldwide
She enters the oil that Bahar makes in the rented factory for several competitions and to her great surprise she wins no fewer than twenty prizes. Its olive oil is acclaimed and awarded worldwide. It motivates her to keep going and to focus 100% on her new business. "I quickly realized that if you want to produce at a certain level, it's best to have everything in hand. That's why I opened my own factory. I also bought a second olive grove, in the Turkish town of Manisa. In contrast to the age-old trees here in Ayvalik, there are trees that are only eleven years old. Novavera has 55,000 trees there and we are still planting new trees."
It sounds like a fairy tale, but Bahar emphasizes that her work is crazy, but not easy. "Weather conditions, harvesting, motivating a team: everything has to go well to achieve a perfect result." Yet it is her mission to have her olive oils in as many kitchens as possible worldwide. Bahar is proud of the rare variety oils Novavera produces and tells me about the special 'children's oil' she makes. "Children worldwide should eat a lot more olive oil, but the oil should not be bitter for children, because then they don't like it. That's why we make a very mild, fruity oil: highly recommended!"
Olive oil is good for you
Because of her Turkish mother who is addicted to olive oil, Bahar grows up with oil and knows no better than to use it for everything. She tells me she's convinced there's no better way to start your day than with a few spoonfuls of oil, a habit she's had for years. "Olive oil is good for you. Several studies have now shown that eating olive oil is good for your heart and organs. There are even studies showing that olive oil has health benefits for people with Alzheimer's or obesity. As many people as possible should know that."
After dinner we order Çay, super sweet black tea, which is served in small tulip-shaped glasses. Bahar tells me about her life next to her business. She has one son. He is nineteen and currently studying at university in England, but regularly returns to his mommy in Istanbul. The family has just moved: "During the corona pandemic, I went to live on a farm with my partner and son. I love growing my own vegetables and herbs. I now have a vegetable garden, chickens and ducks: a dream come true!" When I ask her what else she likes to do in her spare time, she starts laughing, because she has another hobby from the pandemic: "I started painting and it calms me down, it helps me relax!"
The best oil in the world
That relaxation is very welcome, because it has become clear to me today that Bahar is a busy business woman. She travels every week from Istanbul to her olive groves to visit and motivate her team. She spends days in the Istanbul office, where two team members are involved in sales. She is also often working on her own farm for Novavera. From behind her computer she has contact with people all over the world.
Bahar exports its oil to, among others, China, Korea, Japan, Germany, England and now also to the Netherlands. She hopes to add more countries to this list in the coming years. Her goal for the future? She wants to be in the top 5 of the best oils in the world. She knows she will succeed: "In 2018 we were in the top 50 and in 2019 we were in the top 30. We are now in the top 10, so we can only get better." It's time to leave the terrace, because Bahar has to get to work. I am happy to have met this ambitious Turkish lady and to sell her award-winning oil in my webshop!