Bassatin Baanoub, an olive grove nestled in a forest, is located somewhere between Saida and Jezzine, 60km from Beirut. This land of pine and oak trees along with typical Mediterranean shrubs covers a hill of 1,500,000 square meters. At the lowest point, 180m above sea level, flows the Awali, a rumbling perennial river, alimented by permanent springs. On the right bank, an ottoman water mill almost intact, dating back to 1860. On the left bank, a fading footpath climbs up the hill, passing by old, very old olive trees. Leaning against stone and rock terraces, they’ve been guarding the farm for centuries. Three ruins, from various eras, are scattered among the trees.
The site has been inhabited for centuries: archeologists have found fragments of pottery from the roman era, the remains of a medieval castle face the hill and the archives of Deir el Mkhalles, the nearby convent and owner of the land mention the farm as a lively community.
During he civil war the highly strategic location of the farm was once again noticed by many of the belligerents. The last family living in Baanoub left it to its fate in 1976. Since then, the farm has been slowly disappearing, the olive trees eaten up by the forest, the terraces destroyed by the boars, the forest cut and burnt. Over few decades, the patient work of many generations of farmers and monks almost vanished...
That was until we discovered by mistake this forgotten gem, this island of greenery and silence, we decided to do what we could to save it from decay. Our aim is to bring this farm back to life and make it sustainable again, as well as to protect and increase its biodiversity. In a country where pollution rates are so alarming that they’re never made public, places like Baanoub are so unique that it becomes a real mission to preserve them.