MESA DIDIMA, CHIOS – Chios Mastiha is well-known for its wide-range of uses including medicinal purposes and flavoring various foods and beverages. Chios Mastiha is a natural, aromatic, translucent resin produced from the mastic tree, a large shrub, which is only grown on the island of Chios and in fact, only in the southern part of the island. The word “mastic” as Greek speakers know comes from the Greek word “mastichein” which means “to gnash the teeth.”
Available in different forms – crystal, powder, capsules, oil and gum, Chios Mastiha has been scientifically proven to have beneficial properties including antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, wound healing and skin regeneration, digestive, and oral hygiene.
Chios Mastiha is protected by the European Union and UNESCO as a unique product and the “precious drops” are harvested in a labor-intensive process passed down through the generations. Lenia Ziglaki and George Konstantelias have launched a program offering the opportunity for anyone interested in continuing the tradition to adopt Chios Mastiha trees.
According to the website, Adopt Chios Trees: https://www.adoptchiostrees.gr, the process of adopting a tree is simple and those interested can choose to adopt Chios Mastiha trees or olive trees. The program is a great way to learn about the cultivation of these trees and participate in keeping traditions alive for generations to come.
Lenis Ziglaki says on the website that “after a change in my professional career as an architectural- and 3D imaging- draughtswoman, I and my collaborator George Konstantelias, Chief Marine Engineer, decided to devote ourselves to Chios Mastiha and Olive tree cultivation.
“It was not an easy decision, as agricultural work is very hard. For the Chios Mastiha trees: pruning the trees; enriching the soil; weeding; spreading a covering of clean white clay under the tree; ‘kentos’ (piercing the bark); washing the Chios Mastiha drops. For the olive trees: harvesting the crop; pressing it for oil. And so many other year-round tasks.
“But having been brought up in a family of Mastiha-growers, it is not possible to forget the scented family house at the time of cleaning and washing the Mastiha. Nor can you forget your parents’ faces, which, you would think, are colored by the toil of the Mastiha-cultivation, but, also, by their joy when they delivered their Chios Mastiha to the Chios Mastiha Growers Association.
“So, in 2018 we set off with the weeding of my family fields in Mesa Didima, one of the 24 Mastiha villages of Southern Chios. However, very soon, other people around us entrusted us with their own deserted fields. As they told us, ‘To see again their trees take [root] and give life.’ It is a very powerful feeling when you see trees taken care of, well-groomed and ready to offer their fruit. And the people of Chios value this a lot!
“In 2019, we created the project www.adoptchiostrees.gr, with the wish to introduce to you the wonderful world of the precious trees of Chios; those trees that heal body and soul! The Chios Mastiha Trees!”
Through the project:
– You can adopt a Chios Mastiha Tree and receive, together with the Adoption Certificate, 50 grams of natural Chios Mastiha as well as a photograph of your tree with the characteristic signboard on it, specially designed for you;
– You can visit your tree and live a powerful experience of the cycle of the Mastiha cultivation.
Among the reasons to adopt a tree Ziglaki notes,”To create roots connecting you to the unique Chios Mastiha Tree. A tree which offers the gift of the precious healing ‘tear’ unique to Southern Chios, the Chios Mastiha! A national P.D.O [Protected Designation of Origin] product. To strengthen the cultivation of Mastiha. A traditional cultivation, which has been included by UNESCO in the list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Adopt a Chios Mastiha Tree and enter a world full of aroma, tastes, but also of hard work.”
More information is available online: www.adoptchiostrees.gr.