Monday, November 2, 2009

Trees Raining Olives on a Lovely Sunny Day

800 trees need to be harvested for their olives at a friend's farm, Agriturismo Monte Sereo, in the Colli Euganee west of Padua.
What better way to spend a gorgeous November day than here, working under the warm sun! Together with a small army of about twenty adults and kids, we went to work.

An American with bright red hair, io, uses a bright orange comb to pull off the fruit from the tree branches which is much faster and more effective than pulling each olive off by hand. A net laid under each tree catches all the olives. As harvesters, we just needed to be careful not to crush the fallen olives under our feet as we moved around the tree, which is no small feat.

The farm owner, Leonardo Granata, demonstrates the art of "combing."

A close up of the comb.

One of the most difficult parts of the operation is actually seeing all the olives and making sure that the plant has been completely plucked of them. Since many of the olives are green like the plant's leaves, this can be more difficult than you would think. Other olives hide in the shadows of leaves while still others dangle from branches in the middle of the plant's thicket and it is not easy to physcially access them. This is where the young children are sometimes more effective than adults in the harvest quest.

The trees with fewer olives get picked by hand with no net underneath. The olives are gathered in baskets and added to the larger plastic cases. The children are helping top off this case.

Otherwise, the net is used to funnel all the olives into the cases as shown here.

The olive tree grove on Monte Sereo overlooking the plains including Padua in the distance.

A still life of the tools used during the olive harvest.

After working in the orchard, we relaxed in the afternoon sun with a regional speciality, pasta e fagioli (pasta and bean soup), bruschetta made from last week's pressed harvest, good wine and Nardini grappa extra-reserve. And of course, we all went home with a little bottle of the farm's olive oil blend.

Pictured below is the restored eighteenth-century farmhouse "Monte Sereo" which is also available for hire as a bed-and-breakfast or rental house property for longer stays.

For more information, consult the farm's website:
Owners: Leonardo Granata and Silvia Carenza (who speaks beautiful English)

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