Why Harvesting Olives by Hand Matters
Olive trees are some of the oldest trees ever harvested by humans, a practice that dates back more than 8,000 years. The trees grow slowly and require meticulous cultivation; in exchange for that intensive investment, their longevity rewards many generations. They live long, long lives—some for as much as a millennium.
There are three main ways of harvesting olives from their trees: hand-harvesting, industrial harvesting, and harvesting from super-high-density planting. We’ll start with hand-harvesting, as this is the ancient method that’s been done for generations and generations. All of Gaea’s olive oil comes from hand-harvested olives. Hand-harvesting means exactly what it sounds like—our farmers pluck the olives from the trees when they’ve reached their perfect ripeness with their own two hands. Sometimes they may use wooden combs or a mechanical arm extension to reach the olives on the upper branches. These mechanical arms have something like “long fingers” attached on one end that detach the olives from the branches. Either way it’s a physically demanding job that means getting down on hands and knees, sorting the good olives, getting rid of any defective or damaged olives and rooting out twigs and debris.