One of the most exciting and fulfilling activities that take place on our farm is the annual olive harvest. This essential part of our permaculture journey not only provides us with a bountiful harvest of delicious olives but also showcases the beauty of working in harmony with nature.
It’s all about balance and harmony in the environment. Small scale production, high human input, management of the trees ensures a better balance and harmony
We make high quality organic, hand-made olive oil in the unique region of Kalamata. Our oils are made from olives grown in the best regions of Greece. The oils are cold-pressed, extra virgin, keeping them fresh and healthy.
We grow Koroneiki olives, coming from the nearby village of Koronei. It’s been selected over decades for its resistance for pests and high quality oil. These kinds of olives are grown all over the world – even in California. We are living in the birth place of olive oil in the Kalamata region.
The Olive Grove
Our olive grove is a vibrant and integral part of our permaculture farm, serving both ecological and culinary purposes. It’s designed to mimic natural ecosystems, with carefully selected companion plants and a focus on minimizing environmental impact. We practice polyculture, interplanting various species to create a balanced ecosystem that requires minimal intervention. Our olive trees are grown alongside nitrogen-fixing plants, aromatic herbs, and other fruit trees, promoting biodiversity and reducing the need for chemical inputs. We don’t use any fertiliser, chemical or natural pesticides. Instead, we focus on bio diversity and building life in the soil through importing organic matter.
Kalamata’s climate of mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers is perfect for growing olives. Our farm is located in the south-western part of the province. The soil is rich with all the nutrients olive trees need. This region is the highest and driest in Kalamata, which is fantastic for the olive trees. It also prevents damage to the olives by the diseases and pests such as the olive fly.
Pest control through biodiversity
The olive fly, called Dacus oleae or Bactrocera oleae, is the biggest enemy of olives and a nightmare for oil producers. This tiny winged creature lays its eggs inside unripe olives, and the larvae eats and damaged newly-formed berries impacting the trees and quality of the olive oil.
The answer to this problem has been systematic spraying of the olive trees with chemicals products that are highly harmful to the ecosystem and the final consumer of the product. This problem relates to monoculture systems with very low biodiversity and in which pests thrive. The natural answer to this problem is by hosting biodiversity and introducing natural predators such as birds or other insects. In order to combat the olive fruit fly, flowers such as Dittrichia visacoa can been used as a biological method of control, hosting natural predators of pets including the olive fruit fly.
Harvesting Olives: A Seasonal Tradition
The olive harvest at our permaculture farm is a highly anticipated event that occurs every autumn. It is shared with enthusiasm and love within our community. We follow a systematic approach to ensure the best quality olives for pressing into olive oil, table olives, and other olive-based products. We make sure to handle the olives with care and work harmoniously with the environment. It is a job of patience, love and great reward.
1. Timing: Olive harvesting typically begins in late October or early November, depending on local climate conditions and the specific olive tree varieties we cultivate. Early harvested olives provide a smaller yield but high quality product. We are generally the first people at the mill for this reason! This kind of young olive oil is known as “Agureleo”, the best quality olive oil with a sharp, profound and distinctive taste.
2. Hand-picking: Our farm emphasises a hands-on approach to olive harvesting to minimise damage. We gather a team of volunteers, local workers, and permaculture enthusiasts to pick the olives. Hand-picking minimises damage to the trees and fruit.
3. Harvesting Tools: We use hand rakes and small hand-operated shaking machines to comb the olives off the trees into nets. The combination of hand-picking and using appropriate tools ensures that our olives are collected gently and without bruising. We then carefully select branches full with olives to prune, giving them more sunlight for a bountiful harvest next season! From these branches we process them in a sorting machine which separates out the olives and mulches the branches and leaves. The mulch then goes back onto the olive trees of course! We take these olives to the mill right away to preserve their nutritional quality.
4. Community and Learning: Our olive harvest is a time for education and community engagement. We share with volunteers and other community members the permaculture principles we follow and the importance of sustainable farming practices.
Our 2023 Olive harvest team
5. Post-Harvest Processing: Once harvested, the olives are taken to the mill to be pressed into olive oil right away. At our local mill, they are sorted, cleaned, and pressed into precious green gold liquid olive oil.
If you want a taste of the magic, don’t hesitate to contact us!
We also shared a recipe about making handmade natural olive oil soap. Check it out!
Are we organic?
Are you kidding? Of course! we are much more than organic. our project is dedicated to ecology and our NGO is dedicated to ecology. The standards or organic agriculture is not enough. We believe that our supporters know our dedication to ecology and trust us and our processes. For the moment we don’t feel the need to pay for approval within state regulations. We are doing much more than organic!
- We are not spraying any kind of “biologic” fertilisers or any products that claim to be organic without considering the wider impact of their ingredients.
- Instead of using any of those products, we are feeding the soil and not the plants. By feeding the soil local organic matter such as animal manure and wood chips we create healthy bacteria, mushrooms and microfauna to give the plant life with a self-fulfilling natural system.
The annual olive harvest at our permaculture farm is not just a seasonal activity; it is a symbol of our dedication to working in harmony with nature, nurturing our land, and producing high-quality, sustainable agricultural products.
We invite you to join us for the next olive harvest and experience the joy of sustainable farming while enjoying the fruits of your labor! It’s a celebration of nature, community, and delicious olives that inspire us to continue our permaculture journey.