Freshfield Grove

Tales of Tasmanian Adventures in Olive Oil

How do you harvest olives?



Vincent van Gogh; Olive Pickers; Saint-Rémy, December 1889

Vincent van Gogh; Olive Pickers; Saint-Rémy, December 1889

Over the next few weeks I’m going to write posts that answer a few questions that we get asked a lot when we’re telling people about our olive grove. One of the most common ones at the moment is “How do you harvest your olives?” Olive harvesting is traditionally a very labour intensive activity, and remains largely that way in smaller groves like ours, although there are are hand held olive harvesting tools that make it quicker.


Campagnola Alice olive harvester

Campagnola Alice olive harvester (

We’ve got one of these tools which has two combs with fingers that move in an elliptical motion. Kind of hard to explain, but have a look at the video below. We rake this through the branches and the olives are dislodged with relatively few leaves and twigs. Nets are laid out under the trees to collect the fallen fruit, which are then transferred into crates and taken to the on-site processing room. The action in the video below starts at about 1 minute 20! We probably won’t have this background music as we harvest…

Other mechanical methods of harvesting include tree shakers, which clamp onto the main trunk and shake the tree for a few seconds, making the olives fall off. Or there are huge over-row harvesters, which look a bit scary to be honest! These over-row machines are used mainly in very large super-high density groves where the trees are planted much closer together than ours. I’m not sure I could cope with watching one of these going over our precious trees, but it doesn’t actually seem to do them any harm!

Have you got any questions about our Tasmanian olive grove or extra virgin olive oil? If you do, just ask in the comments section below this post, or using our contact form (click here). FFx

Author: FarmerFi

I'm a British doctor who married an Aussie, moved to Tasmania, and bought an olive grove. Now making extra virgin olive oil and olive leaf tea. I'd love you to join my adventures in the beautiful setting of Southern Tasmania.

3 thoughts on “How do you harvest olives?

  1. I’m curious if high density farms will have the same quality of olives. My theory is that more density results in a more quickly depleted soil. Here in Provence, I haven’t seen any high density operations — almost all of them are hand picked (using harvesting tools, but certainly not over-row machines.) Would be an interesting experiment to test soil samples from HD vs. “normal” farms over time.


    • I don’t know what impact density has on the quality of the olives, but agree that it seems likely the soil will be depleted more quickly. I know those groves have a shorter lifespan, I think I’ve seen about 40 years quoted somewhere. I guess high density groves may need more, or different, fertiliser regimes? There’s so much to learn about soil!!


  2. Pingback: Question: Who Am I, and Why Am I Here? | freshfieldgrove

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