A Slice of Life: Picking the Olives

Everyone these days knows the benefits of a Mediterranean diet.  Spain is the largest producer of what is considered the healthiest type of oil in the world, with 80% of the olive crop farmed in Andalucía.

Over recent years, many nearby fincas have been left untended, but this year instead of their olive, almond and fig crops being left to wither on the trees, more people are working the land.  In these times of high unemployment, many local families are re-evaluating the value of their plots of land in the countryside, cultivating and collecting their oranges, lemons, avocados and, of course, olives.

Living in the countryside, it´s unusual for us to hear voices nearby when we have the windows open, or if we are out in the garden, but over the past couple of weeks, the warm autumn sunshine has brought out families and friends to help with the olive harvest.

There are no mechanical devices here to help with picking, due to the steep terraces.  Large nets are laid out around the base of the trees to collect the ripe olives – and then comes the hard work – whacking the trees with long sticks.

Of course, there is much chatter, laughter,  picnics and cold beers.  A couple of years ago we helped some English friends to harvest their olives, along with a neighbouring Spanish family.  Even though at the time they couldn´t speak any English and our Spanish was limited, we still enjoyed many hours of  laughter and conversation together.  Oh, and did I mention the picnics and cold beers?

[Photo credits: (cc) hummanna]

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