Olive trees begin to bow with wondrous promise

By Martin Kirby

What almonds there are to be had in the tired old grove will need harvesting in the coming days, but neither they nor the darkening grapes are what weigh most on the mind this year. Every day I cup swelling olives in my hand and hope. We have begun to bottle the 500 litres of wine from the 2009 harvest, so all our containers and equipment can be cleaned in readiness for the 2010 vintage. The recent blast of heat has brought the harvest predictions forward to the end of September, but we must continue to wait and see. Beyond initial pruning, we have left the vines to their own devices this year, resisting treating them with sulphur and copper sulphate Bordelais mixture as we have in past years, albeit less and less. It is a risk and our production could be drastically reduced if some plants are beset with disease, but we want to try and make one hundred per cent ecological wine. No, it is the olives that draw the eye more than any fruit. Slowly the trees begin to bow as the clusters of olives fill out, and it looks like we may have a reasonable harvest in November. A few days ago we drove through the tiny farms of the villagers we work with. The groves where the Mother's Garden fresh olive oil comes from look rich and so healthy, the blue green leaves billowing above the red earth. Olives have become a vital part of this story - and our future - as our fresh olive oil business continues to grow and grow. Selling fresh olive oil in bulk and to private customers and at the same time trying to widen the knowledge of what is, basically, an incredible juice, has become so important to us. Many of you know this because you are our customers. We remain, as ever, open to all ideas from you as to how to improve what we do. Incidentally, we still have a little stock from the July shipment. Any takers? Either get in touch direct or order online. We were at the village mill to discuss a new idea that we will be offering from the autumn - 25 litre boxes of fresh olive oil for chefs and possibly delis who want to offer draft oil. Hopefully it will catch on, so further reducing packaging and transport.


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