Note: This article is from 2021.
One of my favorite times of year
Olive harvest season!
This is my third year participating in this most scenic and satisfying of pursuits. I think I am perfecting my whackity-whack technique! I’ve definitely upped my game since last year.
We picked 96kg over 2 days.
Then we hauled it over to the olive press at Latrun.
We poured our load into the mouth of the big machine. It clonked and bonked and roared as it washed and mashed the fruit and spun the pulp.
Then, from a spigot at the other end, emerged liquid gold.
Extra-virgin cold-pressed Beit Shemesh-country olive oil.
It smells like the irrepressible vigor of life – in a jerrycan. The leaves of the tree are like organic solar panels, concentrating the glare of the sun – which baked the Land of Israel all summer long – in the potent oily molecules of the fruit.
Ready to nourish, heal, delight and illuminate our family
With all that is simple and pure and wondrous and holy about
Until next harvest
Im Yirtzei Hashem
Olive Picking Q&A
What’s the deal with shemitta? Is olive picking allowed this year?
This fruit is considered from last year. Next year’s olives (2022) will be shmitta. Even so, we will be allowed to pick them. In fact, I will be allowed to pick the tree in your backyard, as it will be hefker! However the fruit will have kedusha and there will be some issues regarding the quantities I can pick and the method of picking.
Update in 2022: This year’s olives are shmitta olives
Update in 2023: Shmitta is over. The trees and olives are no longer subject to any of those halachos.
I don’t own an olive grove. So where do I pick?
I also don’t own an olive grove, sadly for me! Fortunately, this is The Land of a Million Olive Trees! You can find olive trees which are not harvested in municipal landscapes, JNF forests, in private gardens and on agricultural land that is not tended by its owners. The fruit is usually hefker – but if in doubt, always ask. Posting a request on local and special interest groups will also often yield offers and leads of olive trees that go unpicked. Most people do not pick their olive trees!
How much does it cost to do this? Is it a good way to save money on olive oil?
The Latrun olive press charges 1 shekel/kg, with a minimum of 100kg. Since we brought 96kg, we paid 100 shekel. We got 17 liters. So I guess we paid… um (opens calculator app)… NIS 5.82/liter. Considering the hours invested and the cost of organic cold-pressed olive oil, we earned probably NIS 1.20/hr for hard physical labor. So yeah… This is not an efficient way to save money! Still, I don’t believe that the value of the experience or the product can be measured in money. It’s absolutely one of my favorite annual events, and we enjoy the results for months to come BH.
Update in 2022: Prices have slightly increased at the Latrun Olive press. It’s now 2 shekel/kg for up to 100kg. Over 100kg is 1.5 shekel/kg.
This looks so amazing! Can I join?
We’re done for this year. But there are thousands of other olive trees in Eretz Yisrael for you to pick. The harvest season is just getting started! Anyone looking for a fun and easy olive picking and pressing experience, I heard that Alladin near Modiin is great (though I’ve never been there). Only attempt what we did if you’re excited about a few days of hard labor in the hot sun and no guaranteed outcome.
My name is Naomi and this is my tiny little farm in the heart of the rapidly growing city of Beit Shemesh, Israel. I enjoy growing, making and processing as much of my family's food and household essentials as possible, while nurturing a biodiverse ecosystem filled with beauty and life.