We had a bumper crop of Mission Olives this year. We inherited two very large trees when we bought this house. We have cured them in the past but in recent years they have had the olive fruit fly and were unusable. Not this year!
We are blessed to have two olive presses within a 20 mile radius of our little homestead. Both McEvoy in Petaluma and The Olive Press in Sonoma offer two different community pressing days a year. That’s four chances to get olives pressed. Our olives were ready just in time for The Olive Press date in December. The olives cannot be picked more than 24 hours before pressing. Our trees needed pruning so we ended up stripping the pruned branches right into the bins the day of the pressing. We ended up with 65 pounds. There were plenty left on the tree but we ran out of time. Next time we’ll invite friends to help harvest.
The Olive Press weighed our harvest and charged $0.65/pound. There were lots of other folks with olives waiting in line. The olives varied in size and variety but all were checked for quality. They combined all of the community olives and pressed them together. They could then determine the weight to volume ratio. A few weeks later we picked up a gorgeous GALLON of extra virgin olive oil! We won’t be missing this opportunity again.
There are PLENTY of urban olive trees that go unpicked every year. This is an incredibly underutilized local crop. We have olive presses available for community use and we are importing olive oil from all over the world. Another urban gleaning opportunity awaits.