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  • Janette Keating

Chapter 3: Olive Harvest

Local merchants value olive oil grown and pressed in the area. We see shelves of olive oil with local farmstead names for sale across town and across the country. It was a bonus learning that our olive trees could produce a worthwhile product. That meant that those olives trees were begging to be harvested! It was our duty as stewards of the land to figure out what to do! We couldn’t waste this gift from Mother Nature, so we consulted with a local olive grove manager to assure that our trees would produce the best possible fruit. Some seasonal organic protection from pests was necessary.

This region is ideal for growing olives as well as grapes with its dry summer climate and hot summer sun. We then called the local olive press and learned how busy it is each year pressing and bottling the estate grown extra virgin olive oil for local farmers. We had to set a date and get an appointment for the press. Our first olive harvest was in October 2017. Pat, April and Denis were there to make sure the olives were harvested and pressed. This meant hours of tedious gathering and heavy labor. It wasn't long before they called for help from the experts! That year, the Nuñez team was invited to show us how its done and to help us collect over 600 pounds of olives! That 's enough for a custom crush. We had it professionally pressed and bottled. at Figone's.

Emily, our daughter, developed a lovely logo which we named after Poco, our family cock-a-poo of 20 years, who had passed away that year. The logo was added to each bottle by hand with special pens. POCO OLIO is and will always be our olive oil brand name in honor of this family pet we all loved. By Thanksgiving 2017, we were able to give thanks for the first bountiful harvest of olives.

Since then we have had a second olive harvest in October 2019. That time, we gathered friends and family to help harvest the olives ourselves. It is a lot of work which needs to take place all in the same morning. The olives are delivered to the olive press immediately where they are weighed and pressed the same day. We have learned that the fruit is most abundant every second year. This second time we collected double the amount and now our supply is better. We enjoy sharing it with family and friends. The fresh extra virgin olive oil now has a label that is adhered to the bottles using the same logo. We love using it for salads, fish and much of our cooking. Our family and friends appreciate its excellent taste and purity.

Knowing that olive oil is such a healthy choice to consume, it feels right continuing with this work. Our focus in Sonoma is to be sustainable by giving back to the land with organic matter to keep it productive, viable, and balanced. A compost project is now underway with cuttings from the veggie garden, chicken poop, leaves and soil to spread around and replenish the earth each spring.


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