Cooking, Eat Good Food

Olives and Olive Oil

 

Olives and olive oil are such stalwarts of the kitchen that we often forget to reflect on the goodness that they bring and indeed, their role in helping to support human civilization. (more…)

Farming, HomeFarm

Nov. 4, 2014: HomeFarm Olive Harvest

In the early days of HomeFarm, SHED co-owners Doug Lipton and Cindy Daniel traveled to Provence in 1999 in search of French olive trees to add to their plantings. The trees were chosen for fruit that would be excellent cured; some 15 years later, they are beloved for the oil that they give.

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Two hundred trees — Lucques, Picholines, Solonenque, and Grossane varieties — were chosen, shipped as bare root saplings the following year and, per USDA regulations, quarantined for a year before planting in 2001.

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Now, mostly dry-farmed using organic and Biodynamic methods, the trees have prospered, producing their first fruit in 2008. Tradition has it that you plant grapevines for your children, olive trees for your grandchildren. Some varieties can take as long as 40 years to reach maturity, and HomeFarm’s trees have decades to go before completing their growth. But along the way, they’ll continue to provide the olive oil served in SHED’s cafe and restaurant.

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On Tuesday, Nov. 4, SHED staff joined HomeFarm staff Alvaro and Inocensio in harvesting this year’s olive crop. Yield was small, about 80 percent of last year’s, due to the drought, late rains, and the December cold snap that has affected olive growers across California. Some 280 pounds of fruit were taken and immediately driven to Olivino in Hopland to be crushed in their custom facility. Olivino is one of the few crush pads in the North Bay that does small-scale presses and the owners often prepare a simple dinner for customers to share while their olives are being pressed. It’s a lovely tradition, and one we anticipate each year.

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We wanted to share some photos from that gorgeous mid-autumn day. 

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SHED staff new to the harvest volunteered to be a part of it. We’re so glad they came!

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We’re always wowed by the visual poetry of the groves.

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Our picking pails are a staff favorite and came in handy during harvest!

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From the picking pail to the ag bucket, olives en route to be crushed into oil the same day they’re picked.