Harvesting olives with family & friends in the sun at the farm, celebrating the abundance received from nature. What else could we wish for when we both decided to drastically change our lives? Well, we were in for a magical surprise with the birth of our son; this was Paolo's harvest!
A delegation of very motivated seasonal workers drove from the Netherlands to the farm to help us out with the second olive harvest. Spending quality time with loved ones in nature with the sun on our faces while being busy with our hands in between trees, finishing the days with good food and drinks to celebrate how good life can be. With the experience of last year we knew we needed some more hands to harvest all the olives in time to bring it to the press to make delicious and extra virgin olive oil. Ideally you press the olives the same day of harvest, but best not to wait more than 3 days. The mills don't accept less than 300 KG's of olives, so that is a lot of olives to harvest by hand in a short period of time;)
This year we were also better prepared, having new harvesting nets, hand tools and enough crates to store all the olives to optimally keep them until pressing, preventing fermentation. The nets are placed on the ground for the olives to fall down on, only those olives are pressed in oil, not the ones already fallen on the ground. The olives are raked/brushed from the branches with a small rake, branch by branch. The farm has different types of olive trees. We have tried to plan the harvest as early as possible for most of the olives to be green, the darker/black ones are ripe, and it is said that greener olives have more antioxidants and are healthier.
In the cold mornings when the dew and mist from the river is still making us wear multiple layers we go out with a warm cup of coffee accompanied with a 'Dutch' cookie (or 2) after a nice breakfast together. The first trees are a warm-up for everyone, but quite quickly we get the hang of it and are harvesting multiple trees at the same time. Scratches on our arms, an olive falling in our eye or sore muscles are all part of the experience! And after a full day harvesting we are very happy with the result that we celebrate with a glass of wine. Non-alcoholic for Coralie, who is 34 weeks pregnant, the baby is a big topic of our conversations with our family, where we have chosen to give birth, how will the baby room look like, etc. Luckily the family is also here to help us out putting some closets together and painting some walls, before we can decorate the baby-room. What would we do without them?!
After 2,5 days of harvesting we delivered our first batch of olives of the year to the oil press; of course very excited to know the 'score' of how much we've harvested: more than 400 KG's! Last year we harvested 294 KG in 3 days in total, so this is great news knowing that we still have plenty of trees to harvest! But, we had to change our planning as well.. The press was going to close down for a long weekend. Instead of having a rest day exploring the area and tasting olive oils the next day, we had to postpone it to after the harvest. 'Why would this mill close for 5 days straight in the beginning of the season?!' We could not understand it, but had little option than to adjust and be flexible. In the end this might have been for a greater reason.. As if it was not special enough to show the farm to our family & friends, working hard together and celebrating the harvest, we were surprised by something even more special.
Bringing away the second & last batch of olives Carlo was called by Coralie, who spent the last 2 days already resting in bed. We had to rush to the hospital, as Coralie was having contractions for a while already but did not want to interrupt the harvest. It could not be the start of the delivery right? We were quite scared, as the baby was due 5 weeks later (on Christmas day!), in France!! After a couple days spent at the hospital, Paolo Jan River Steensma was born in Tortosa, Catalunya. A healthy baby boy of 2,940 grams only at 35 weeks of pregnancy. A wonder filled with love and joy, a vulnerable but so beautiful little boy that changed our life completely. After 2 days, we were already able to go back home to the farm with Paolo, where his Dutch opa & oma were (im)patiently waiting to meet him after spending days long of hard work preparing the house and especially the baby-room. All so special, it seems that it was all meant to be to receive this support and care in this exciting but challenging period of life.
We could even fill some bottle of olive oil with our parents, and give them the first batch to bring to the Netherlands. We are so excited to be able to share the second edition of our olive oil with you, the 'Paolo's harvest'. Last year we only had bottles of 250ml, but that was too small for most of you;) So now we have 3 different sizes, adding 500ml & 750ml. We have tried to use as little materials as possible and prevent plastic, which only succeeded with the 750ml bottle. With the 250ml & 500ml we could unfortunately not get the same type of bottle, and had to include a plastic lit. The benefit of that is that it pours a lot easier without spilling. The label is designed by our Rebel Ruby, for which we are so extremely grateful! The label is made from recycled agricultural material from the Netherlands (tomato/sugar cane leftovers), next year we aim to also choose for natural ink so it is 100% clean for your compost pile.
Those who have pre-ordered will receive their bottles in the coming days, the stock to ship before the holidays is limited but we hope we can get more bottled filled soon! We hope we can make everyone happy with our small batches. A great excuse to introduce Paolo to the family to bring more olive oil to NL ;)
In advance we would like to thank you again for your support, because the profits of the olive oil helps us setting up the regenerative farm. Now that we have finished the renovation of our house and live full-time at the farm, learned from Richard Perkins' Masterclass, being guided by Climate Farmers and planted 1,000+ trees in Syntropic Agroforestry style, we are determined to start more regenerative practices in 2022. To give you an idea of some of the practices; we will introduce more diversity like supportive plants ('cover crops') and animals (chickens, sheep & donkeys), building a compost & worm-farm facility, getting a shredder to transform all the pruning material into wood chips to improve the fungi network, improving our volunteer facilities and some fences to keep the hunters out of the farm. We will also continue with sharing the learning journey with a Syntropic Agroforestry course in April '22. Sign-up here.
For now, we wish you very warm festive days filled with joy & nutritious food and surrounded by loved ones and good food.
Coralie, Carlo & Paolo