It began as a small-scale project to help Arab farmers sell olive oil in the Israeli market.

In September 2012 olive trees were planted on unused land in the Jezreel Valley between Nazareth and Tel Megiddo in the northern district of Israel using funds provided by the Church of Scotland.

Over a period of ten years, the land has been transformed into a flourishing organ olive grove producing extra virgin olive oil that is now sold all over the world.

The Church of Scotland say the project is a "model of co-operation" between Jewish and Palestinian Israelis.

Two varieties produced by Sindyanna of Galilee in the 'Scottish Grove' have been judged among the best in world. 

The Cortina (Extra Positive Olive Oil) and Piqual (Extra Social Olive Oil) scooped silver medals in the highly prestigious and competitive international Ovibeja olive oil competition in Portugal.

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A non-profit organisation led by a team of Arab and Jewish women, it also produces premium food products including honey, almonds and carob syrup while promoting Fair Trade.

The Herald:

The Kirk has a long history in the Middle East and is active in advocating for peace in the region in political and religious arenas.

In addition to St Andrew's Jerusalem and Tiberias Church, which operate as one congregation, the church owns the Scots Hotel in Tiberias, St Andrew's Guesthouse in Jerusalem and Tabeetha School in Jaffa.

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Reacting to the awards win, Rev Muriel Pearson, Associate Minister of St Andrew's Jerusalem and Tiberias Church, said: “The Scots Hotel uses Sindyanna Oil exclusively. 

“We always knew it was the best and now it has the awards to prove it."

Prior to taking on her current role last year, Ms Pearson was the minister of Cranhill Parish Church in Glasgow for 18 years. 

Pilgrim groups from Scotland and elsewhere are encouraged to pay a visit to the non-profit organisation’s factory to learn about its products and meet the women who are working together for social justice and a positive change in Israeli society. 

The Herald:

Hadas Lahav, CEO of Sindyanna of Galilee, said: “This marvellous olive grove allows us to promote the modernisation of traditional Arab farming and agriculture by introducing new techniques, irrigation, and olive cultivars.

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“It enables us to aid sustainable cultivation and agriculture, invest all future proceeds of the grove in community projects that promote fair employment for Arab women; and oversee the entire value chain, from field to extra virgin olive oil bottle.”

A plaque erected in the Scottish Grove was dedicated by Very Rev David Arnott, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 2011-12.

It comes as producers and officials have warned that Italy may run out of olive oil in the coming months.

The country’s relatively low harvest and exceptionally poor harvests in Spain and across much of the Mediterranean have resulted in a severe shortage.

Andrea Carrassi, general director of the Italian Association of the Edible Oil Industry (Assitol), said: “If we were a car, our fuel tank light would already be flashing worryingly red."

A drought in Spain halved the country’s production to about 660,000 tons and also took its toll on Portuguese production, widely reducing the overall availability of olive oil on the national and international markets.