The harvest began with a couple days of picking in mid- October. Then in late October a group of 7 Wwoofers from around the world arrived on Kibbutz Gezer. They quickly developed into an amazing group of friends and farmworkers, always willing to help. They just as quickly adapted to kibbutz life and the hot and dry weather, and started picking olives together with the kibbutzniks. First the Suri, then the Shimlali, Barnea and Nabali. We also had our first olives from the small Picholine trees. The yield wasn't great- yields were low all over the region. About 5 tons.
In between varieties, we planted the first phase of a lemon and lime tree grove- about 45 trees. They are situated alongside the olives and the zaatar. We also spread a truckload of compost around the trees and along the water lines, seeded clover and alfalfa, and other tasks.
Thanks to all who came and helped. Your work and contribution is really appreciated by all of us at Kibbutz Gezer. You will be missed!
Celebrating the harvest at Badra, the best hummous restaurant in Rehovot! Thanks Barak for providing us with amazing meals.
We finished harvesting 8.7 tons of olives, and all the olive oil and olives are tucked away safely. The lab results gave the oil very good marks- acidity of 0.35% and 0.4%. Extra virgin for sure. We've done a lot of tasting, and it is delicious. Thanks to everyone who helped . We're now pruning the trees and enjoying the beautiful Israeli winter, as are the trees.
We have begun harvesting the olives! A great group of wwoofers have joined us here at Gezer to help out and to learn about Israel, kibbutz, organic farming and olives.
The first variety to ripen is the Shimlali, a variety rare in Israel but very common in Tunisia and North Africa.
Here's a photo of the first wwoofers to come this year- Lucia, David, Evelyn and Charisse. We had a great time visiting Ramle. For more photos from this year's harvest, check out the PHOTOS section of the website.
Filly asked me if she could move her overcrowded collection of animals from her house to the olive grove. Together we picked out a suitable spot to fence in that includes 2 fig trees. So now we have chickens, ducks, pheasants and 2 lambs grazing and playing, while eating weeds and bugs and leaving natural fertilizer for the trees. A great addition! See photos below.
A couple more days of picking and we can pack away the tarps, rakes and crates for another year. I admit I'm feeling exhausted, happy, and a bit melancholy too. This year we've had a lot of olives to pick (should be a total of around 12 1/2 tons). To help get the work done, we've had many people come and go from all parts of the world and for different amounts of time.
For example, in the photo below taken last week, there are 2 guys (one Israeli, one American) who showed up for the day to help out and to see what olive picking is all about. Ed from New Zealand, came for a few days and came back again for a short stay on his way back home. Biyiha came from Cameroon to learn about Israeli wheat and olive growing techniques and varieties, and to visit the Holy Land. His first trip outside Africa at age 56. Jan and Ruth, ex Gezer members from Norway and England, made their annual return to reconnect with the olives and the place that will always be their home. Miriam, a new immigrant from Maryland now living on Gezer, comes by to help when she can (and Zeev too), and to join in the interesting discussions. And these are just a few of the many people who have been a part of this year's harvest.
Maybelline and Stephen were here the longest, coming to Gezer for a month from Singapore on their first stop on their 3 month world tour. They sure got into eating hummous with zaatar and pools of Gezer olive oil!
I've made a lot of new friends and got to catch up with lots of old ones. Even kibbutz members who I don't get to talk to much. And no harvest would be complete without the kindergarten kids showing us how to party!
So this week we'll start pruning all the trees, and before you know it we'll be mowing the winter weeds,hanging the fly traps and the trees will start flowering. And so it goes.
After some great rains, with a total of over 100 mm, we were back at it, trying to get the last of the olives harvested. We've topped 10 tons, with about 3 tons still left to pick. The rains caused some fruit to drop, but nothing too serious. In about 10 days we should pack up the last load, and start pruning the trees. Here are some more photos of the great folks who helped. Sorry there isn't a photo of everyone. Send me your pictures, guys.
Another picking season, and another great group of people have joined us. Some for a few days, some for a few weeks. the yield is amazing- probably our 2nd best ever. So far we've gotten 7 tons picked (as of Nov. 17th), with probably another 5 or 7 to go. Thanks to everyone who are making this such fun, even when it's ________ (fill in the blank- hot, raining, cold, early, buggy, thorny, noisy, quiet, sunny, heavy... )
It seems that the harvest starts earlier each year. By mid-October this year, we had already brought the first load of olives to the press. As of today, we've already picked the Shimlali and Suri olives, and are in the midst of the picking the Barnea. Oh, the Barnea! The trees are just dripping with clusters of purple and red olives. Luckily lots of people have been helping out, both from the kibbutz and from all over the world. A special thanks to Maybelline and Stephen from Singapore, who have been such great workers and so much fun to be with! And thanks to the other wwoofers and volunteers who have come and gone- Susan, Jonathan, Dina. And to today's arrival, Max. As well as all the kibbutzniks, my brothers and sisters, who come out and help when they can. And- the oil is so spicy and delicious! We'll begin selling this year's oil in about a month. So get your orders in now.
Just before Rosh Hashana and the upcoming olive harvest I decided to decompress and get myself some inspiration for a couple days. I drove up to Kadita, a very small community near Meron with some very interesting people, homes, and especially landscapes and permaculture gardens. Beautiful trees, including olives, although the grazing goats and cattle are constantly gnawing at them.
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I'm Dani Livney, a member of Kibbutz Gezer, and the manager of the Gezer olives. I love it! I also work as a lawyer, focusing on environmental projects and promoting environmental empowerment and education.