Two Fields Zakros

Will Rolph – Co-Founder

What’s your story?

A few years ago I was at university studying Design, specialising in sustainability and feeling frustrated. I wanted to work on projects that mattered but often couldn’t.

At the same time, my brother Harry, had fallen in love with Eleni and moved to the small Cretan Village of Zakros to be with her. I would visit whenever I could. There, we discovered a place defined by a beautiful olive craft passed down the generations and way of life connected to nature and the seasons. But it was also the first time we’d seen the real strain of conventional farming on both land and people.

We saw the beauty of the craft and the challenge of a broken food system. We believed in something different and so became unlikely apprentices to incredible craftsmen and self taught regenerative farmers. Buying our own Two Fields, regenerating the land and producing small batches of olive oil.

We realised two fields in rural Crete and a business built on the idea of making positive change could make a big impact.

How is your company different?

If you believe in change and you’re building something, then you’re inherently building something that’s different. We knew nothing about farming, business or brand. There’s real freedom in that. When there’s no fixed rules or ideas, you can go wherever you want and normally you end up somewhere different.

We’re still on that journey. We’re learning a beautiful olive craft and reconnecting it to nature, pushing beyond organic farming to a regenerative approach. We collect, cultivate and redistribute beneficial microbes to give back to our soils, replicate natural systems and consider our two fields as an ecosystem not 200 individual olive trees.

We choose to be small. Hand picking every olive and hand numbering every bottle. Putting nature, craft and quality first. We’re also experimenting in the fields, telling the incredible stories from the village and sharing other tastes that define Zakros.

We’ve seen the result of a broken food system up close, affecting the place we call home and people we love. Two Fields started as a response to that. We knew there was a different way.

What’s the hardest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

Honestly, I think starting is one of the biggest challenges. We’d been searching for olive trees for a long time but couldn’t find the right fit. Then inside one week, my design placement fell through just before it was about to start and my brother phoned me to say he’d found these two fields.

There was this moment where we had to jump. That’s quite scary. Looking back, I didn’t really know what that meant. I just thought we could do something really interesting and important.

It’s cliche but you get through that with trust. Trust in who you’re doing it with, trust that what you’re doing actually matters and that this is where you’re supposed to be heading. It’s essentially the challenge of the unknown. If you’re building something, that challenge never goes away.

You have to trust that you can do it or that there’s a way to figure it out.

What are you most proud of?

Jiannis, our teacher and  family, very sadly passed away recently. He was a true craftsman and taught us everything we know. He showed us the fundamentals of olive farming, the importance of doing things to the very best standard and truly caring for the trees and the craft.

Just before harvesting our second batch, we were in the fields together. He said he couldn’t believe how healthy and strong the trees were compared to when we bought them – back then they were in need of some serious love and attention.

Jianiss looked at us both and nodded. A nod that acknowledged how far we’d come and how much we had learnt. That nod will always be our proudest moment.

Is there a book, podcast, article or quote that’s inspired you recently?

I’ve just started the book Waypoints by Robert Martineau. It’s about the power of a walking pilgrimage and his journey across West Africa. I’ve always been in love with a similar idea. I’ll have to start planning my route.

This isn’t something I’d normally listen to. I read something about Tobi Lutke, the founder of Shopify and I was fascinated by his thought process and views on certain things. That led me to this interview which is interesting.

What role does nature and/or adventure have in your life or work?

While in Greece, my day is often determined by the season. That’s anything from foraging to the jobs in the fields. Everything we do in the fields is about replicating natural systems, so nature is forever inspiring us.

In the U.K, I’m always walking or running in the forest or trying to get to the sea. It’s where I have my best ideas, it’s a place to disconnect and reconnect to something bigger. We often talk about disconnecting but I think reconnecting to something bigger than ourselves or our business is important.

What’s next?

Jiannis’ olive fields have been passed on to us. It’s an incredibly powerful and special moment. He’d taught us so much and seeing what we were doing, became open to another way. We’re starting that process for him now. A moment to step up and make him proud.

We’ve also been asking questions about how we give back to our community. How we preserve the memories, stories and culture of this amazing place. All of this has been passed onto us and I think that comes with a certain responsibility. Through loss, that sense of responsibility has grown and it’s something we’re focused on exploring.

In a sentence, what advice do you have for other founders:

The easiest way is rarely the right way. We’ve never had more opportunity to be part of something bigger and to create change. Even when it gets tough, remember how exciting that is.