It’s All Greek to Her

Cancer survivor who inherited Ionian olive orchard brings her wares to Alberta


Cochrane resident Rosie Lefler knows the value of a healthy diet in staying well, and for her, that includes olive oil. So when she had the opportunity to bottle her own oil from the fruit, she had no choice but to take it.

Lefler has a long history in the food industry, primarily in the Peace Region of B.C., where she and her husband Dimitri Pafiolis raised three children and ran as many restaurants, primarily ­offering Greek food. After Pafiolis died from cancer in 1995, around the same time she was diagnosed with cancer herself, she sold the restaurants. Then in 2005, she inherited her late husband’s family farm on the Peloponnese peninsula, and with that came 35,000 olive trees.

By 2007, she was pressing her own olives and producing and bottling oil. She admits the first few years were trial and error. “We had to learn how to make oil,” she says. In 2011, she began to bring her oil back to Canada, and moved to Cochrane where she set up shop. Now she has a co-op with 168 different farmers who believe in sustainable farming practises and also grow olives in her area in Greece.

Lefler can’t say enough about the merits of pure olive oil. “Most of the oils here are blended, mixed and refined and cannot be used with heat,” she says.

“Real extra virgin olive oil is the only fat your body does not have to change in digestion, which is why it’s so healthy. It aids in great digestion function and overall well-being.”

Parthena Extra Virgin Olive Oil is sold in many specialty shops throughout Alberta.

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