Olive Harvest

November is olive harvesting time in Greece.
These stairs lead up into the olive groves above Magganitis.
The stairs end abruptly after about 30 feet, and then we must make our way up a steep hill through prickly dry brush and boulders until we reach the olive grove.
There are different names for each area of Magganitis. This area above the village where we are harvesting olives today is called “Katsalika.” Many of these olive trees will not be picked by anyone, as the owners of them have long since died and their families moved away.
Pruning Olives
Olive trees can live several hundred years, and remain productive if pruned properly.
Olive Harvest
Picking olives is not easy in this region, as the ground is not flat. Nets must be laid over boulders, terraced walls, drop-offs, and spiky plants which tear holes in the nets.
Several different implements are used to pick the olives. One of the standard tools is called a “ktenaki,” (meaning comb in Greek), and comes in various lengths.

Olive Harvest

Olive Harvest Tool
This more modern tool is hooked up to a car battery and spins around quickly to remove the olives at the tops of the trees. It is more efficient, but more prone to malfunction.
Olive Harvest
Though slower, olives can be picked by hand when sparse or not hanging over the nets.

The Greeks also pick olives in this way just before harvesting the bulk of the olives for oil. Better quality olives are selected one by one from the trees and will be preserved for the year.

Olive Harvest
Once the olives are collected from each tree, they must be sorted and debris removed. Most importantly, if olives come off still attached to stems and leaves, they must be removed. At the oil press, if the olives are still attached to debris, they will be discarded, and oil yield goes down.
12 Kilo Olive Tin
The olives are then emptied into one of these 12-kilo containers. Two of these containers get emptied into a sack, and each 24-kilo sack of olives must eventually be carried off the mountain, along with all the equipment.
Full olive sacks plus equipment.
On the third day of harvesting olives, Mikalis prepares Greek coffee before we go up the mountain.
Michalis plays violin
Time for some morning music with our coffee. Mikalis and both his grown children are all talented musicians and play traditional music from Greece and the Eastern Aegean region.
Matthew enjoying a traditional Greek breakfast of sweet biscuits and coffee.
Mikalis and Achilles
Mikalis visits Achilles, the family horse.

This horse barn, small shed, and garden area are in the lower region of Magganitis known as “Paleohora.” Mikalis owns about fifty olive trees here, in addition to the ones on the hill.

Achilles and Panagiotis
Panagiotis, Mikalis’s son, with Achilles. Panagiotis also runs the Cafe Pantepoleio.

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