The harvest of the olives on Crete.
The harvest of the olives starts at the beginning of November. They try to avoid the rainy days. Usually a team consists of four to five persons. This is an easy number, because everybody will then have a task.
What needs to be done? One or two persons make sure that the netting is neatly placed and organized underneath the trees. This is quite a heavy job because one has to move and drag the netting the whole day and make sure no olives are lost when they fall next to the netting. Two persons hit the olives off the tree.
The tool that is used to do this with is a combination of a broom stick with the handle of a shovel attached to it. On the top of the broom a kind of paint roller with hard strips of plastic of about 20 cm long is attached. A mechanic motor is making the roller spin, wherefore the plastic strips move in a rapid pace and hit the olives off the branches. During this process special attention is paid to the fact that not too many branches break. Therefore, it is more sufficient to let the roller with the ‘broom stick walk’ over the branches. This way it is less heavy, because stiff muscles are guaranteed, especially during the first days.
A third person will collect the olives by simply picking up the netting. He throws the olives and leaves in a portable separator, where most of the leaves and branches will be separated from the olives. Underneath this separator hangs a Hessian sack to catch the olives. The bag is closed and put on the pick up, which is also quite a heavy job, because a back usually ways about 10 to 15 kilo.
Next, the bags are taken to the olive factory where they will be pressed as soon as possible. The longer the olives lie around without getting pressed, the worse the quality will be. In an olive factory people therefore work day and night.
The Olive tree of Vouves is an olive tree in the village of Ano Vouves in the municipal unit of Kolymvari in Chania regional unit, Crete, Greece. Probably one of the oldest olive trees in the world, it still produces olives today.
The exact age of the tree cannot be determined. The use of radioisotopes is not possible, as its heartwood has been lost down the centuries, while tree ring analysis demonstrated the tree to be at least 2000 years old. and on the other end of the scale, scientists from the University of Crete have estimated it to be 4,000 years old. A possible indicator of its age are the two cemeteries from the Geometric Period discovered near the tree.
Current research in Crete and abroad indicates that earlier estimates of the age of olive trees are to be debated as far as their accuracy. There is not yet an agreed upon scientific method to ascertain the age of olive trees. In the case of the Vouves Olive, it could be much younger than earlier estimates or even than the ancient tree in Finix (Sfakia).
In 1997, the tree was declared a protected natural monument, and in October 2009, the Olive Tree Museum of Vouves was inaugurated in a nearby 19th-century house, displaying the traditional tools and process of olive cultivation. Branches from the tree were used to weave victors’ wreaths for the winners of the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.