The act in itself may seem simple enough the picking of olives however has been taking place at this time of year for millennia on the land of Greece.
Our grandmothers and grandfathers did it and so did theirs before that. It involves the coming together of men and women for a single cause, to reap the harvest of the sacred olive tree. In the process many marriages are arranged, disputes settled and friendships are born.
Every two years olive trees produce more olives and this year is such.
In truth, the olives came a little early this year. The climate has changed and so has the crop but that is another’s story to tell. We don’t use chemicals or pesticides in Delfinia Gardens and so we trust in nature’s way. It seems that temperatures and humidity levels have favored the ‘dakos’ , a small fly, this year which has left less for keeps.
Picking olives is not a particularly easy job and certainly one that takes patience and loving dedication to one’s land for it is not a means to make a profit.
Unless one is into the business of producing olive oil, picking olives today is about producing a family’s annual consumption and maybe a bit more to share with friends and other important favorites. With less young family members contributing to the process today and hands needing to be paid for such work the value is even less.
Nature calls nonetheless and the olive trees ask to be relieved of their precious load and to be trimmed and pruned in the process that keeps them looking young and healthy in terms of the life of an olive tree that can easily span a few hundred years at a time.
The general rule used to be that men went up the ladders to cut the branches and the women combed the branches or picked the olives off the ground much like Aggeliki and Theodoros are doing at Delfinia Hotels. A special comb or ‘chtena’ is used to brush the olives off the branches without harming them in the process. One comb size is used for all types of olives.
The length of the characteristic black nets used to gather the olives is measured in ‘passa’ or steps.
They come in rolls of one hundred meters and are cut down to size to cover the entire work area as well as the base of all olive trees to catch the olives that fall naturally off the trees. In the past women would pick the olives off the ground and collect them in a special front apron called a ‘brostomouni’. This ensured that the crop was cleared of leaves and small branches in this hand selection process.
The small piles of olives will be out in sacks and taken to the local olive press for a first press.
This will determine the acidity and overall quality of this year’s olive oil before proceeding further with all of Delfinia Hotel’s olive trees. Naturally the picking of olives is a process that takes place once our last guests have left. Because we consider it an important part of our year and one that many guests asked about whilst taking part in Delfinia Hotel’s Tree Project this year we wanted to share a small part of it with you too.