In Umbria, olives are a way of life. The oil is amazing with grassy, peppery notes in your mouth. You drizzle it on bruschetta, meats, vegetables, soups and salads. Everyone in Umbria either has an olive grove or knows someone who has an olive grove who needs help with the harvest. It seems everyone gets involved. It is very inclusive and a real way of life here. The olives are all colors.
This is my second olive harvest. It’s been 3 years since my first one so I’m not a total newbie! There are about 70 trees spread out over the property which is beautiful, by the way. It is up above Calagrana, our friends Agriturismo.
The Appenine mountains poking up in the distance. A dreary day unfortunately so no sunshine.
View from the property down the valley.
We did the bottom field first. We started out being 12 people but by the end we were 9. A couple of the trees were definite overachievers. Just loaded with olives! It is a really full day of work. We help them set the nets under the trees, dragging them about and putting supports at the bottoms to keep the olives from rolling off. Then we use little rakes to rake the olives off the branches reaching as high as we can. Meanwhile someone works the “basher” which beats the upper branches to shake the olives down. Then you have to lift the nets and roll all the olives together and put them into plastic crates called cassetti. Physical labor all on hillsides so lots of up and down walking. I am proud to say I did it! For two full days! Not bad for an old broad.
The cassetti of olives. All colors!
When you participate in an olive harvest, there’s no telling what will happen. Our group started singing Mary Poppins songs. Turns out several of us knew all the words!! Chimchimanee, I Love to Laugh, Feed the Birds… fun!
By the end of the first day we had harvested less than half the trees and had 43 boxes of olives. A bountiful harvest! We had run out of boxes, and it was getting dark so the end of a productive day. Plan is to take the boxes to the Frantoio, or olive mill, and press them and return Monday for a final pass at the trees. There are some totally loaded trees on the upper slopes. Then they will take the rest to the mill for pressing. A real bumper crop this year.
We had a lovely after harvest dinner. Albi had prepared chili con carne for us all. Excellent and the perfect thing to fill our empty stomachs after a hard days work.
Monday we worked a second full day in the olive grove. Ely will pick again tomorrow and Wednesday. There are so many trees still to do. She went to the mill this morning with Saturday’s harvest which weighed in at 950 kilos and yielded 132 liters of oil and she says it is really good. Peppery and grassy. Just the way I like it 😋 This day we picked half again as many (with only 5 people) so should get another 60 liters and whatever else she does back to the mill. I took a tumble as did little Olie as the nets were wet and on a very steep slop. My feet would slide downhill. I could get no purchase. SO I decided to take a couple pictures of this amazing property. Autumn colors.
I’m going to the mill to take pictures Thursday with Ely for the final press. Second blog to come on that.
So interesting and such gorgeous pics. I would love to taste that olive oil😋
Glad you liked them!
Lovely to see the pictures, Nancy!
That would be great! I hope so.
Most of these olive growers around here are individuals. They don’t produce for commercial use. A lot of houses have their own small grove, by that I mean 50-100 trees. And these are just homeowners who want to harvest their own and make oil. It is technically illegal to have guest workers or even friends help in the groves in Italy. Labor laws and such require you to pay the help. A friend of mine with a big grove was ratted out by his neighbors for having friends help so he can’t do that anymore, sadly. But many others don’t get caught and still aske friends etc.
Okay, we’ll, maybe someday I can be there to lend a hand, too. Thank you, —CR
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy the camaraderie and shared experience. A good tired at the end of the day. Hope you can too, next year.
How interesting!! We would love to join you and help out some year. A real cultural experience! By the way, I am a member of a website called: http://www.workaway.com . If you need help, this would be a good way to get it for free. You provide lodging and food in exchange for 25 hours of work per week.
Fantastic! Can’t wait to participate in a harvest myself next season! Thanks for sharing!
Sorry but no Carlo. They use it at the restaurant and split it with the owner of the grove. So only us worker bees get any.
Can we buy some of Ely’s Calagrrana olive oil somewhere?