Sadly, our 2018 harvest is over. It's two weeks of hard work, but there's nothing like being outdoors in the elements, frost under your feet, sun shining, fantails flitting amongst the trees saying hello, and the olives raining down on you. At the end of each day you see the fruits of your labour with 1200kg of olives sitting in the bins, you know you are that much fitter and toned. Heck - I have biceps on me that I've never seen before - and won't again until the end of 2019 harvest!
I've had several people ask me how the harvest is done so here goes.
We meet early in the morning, and team get ready. We all help to put down the long mats under the trees. The compressor gets taken off the trailer, gets topped up with gas, and 'clappers' get attached to the compressor. The battery operated clapper gets attached to the huge battery and we're ready to go. The team using the clappers start at the end of the grove and work their way down. Meanwhile, the 'bin lady' goes and puts bins down the side of each mat ready to collect the olives. That was my job and I would say that was the most important job of the day!
The team using the clappers rotate. The Battery clapper is slightly lighter and can go higher, so the person using that collects the olives from the top of the tree. The other two work on opposite sides of the tree on the branches in the middle and bottom. If the ground team haven't anything to keep them occupied, they grab the plastic rakes and work the bottom of the trees as well. Once the team moves down the row of olives a bit, then team working the ground, roll the olives together using the mats. When there is enough in a pile, they are flicked into the bins and placed on the side of the grove ready for collection.
Once a whole row of olives have been collected they are lifted onto the trailer and poured into the main bin. While they are being poured, we use a blower to blow the leaves from the olives for two reasons. The first being that leaves add to the weight of the olives and we don't want to pay the press for leaves, and the 2nd, it's best for the press that there are few leaves and twigs as possible.
Once the end of the row has been reached, the mats are then moved to the next row and the process starts again. At the end of the day, Chris takes the olives to the Marlborough Olive Press, while the rest of the team roll up the mats and puts everything away. I'm already looking forward to 2019 Harvest!
Here's a little video I've compiled of the harvest this year.
This blog was written by the Bin Lady.