A big thank you to all at Athena Olives in Waipara who took a complete olive picking novice under their communal wing today and gave me such a wonderful – and painful! – experience during a very busy time for them.
I spent the morning in the olive groves dragging large nets around to put under the trees before the men with the clappers (a kind of vibrating rake) shake the olives off the trees. Those nets don’t manage to gather everything so there was plenty of picking the harvested olives off the ground. Between that, rolling the nets and moving large boxes of olives my muscles know all about it tonight! A lunchtime was never more welcomed.
After an hour back out amongst the trees in the afternoon, I got to work for a time in the sweet-smelling pressing shed, watching the actions of the traditional Italian hydraulic press and tasting the peppery fresh pressed oil.
Although picking olives may be a far distance removed from haying in Ireland the backbreaking work of the harvest is the same. And so is the satisfaction. Now I understand a little better how quality olive oil is produced – and why it costs so much…money well spent, if you ask me.