When my friend Julie first invited us to her home away from home for olive picking I was immediately inspired with visions of bucket filling, ladder moving and an opportunity to spend the day outside in the company of friends. It sounded like an ideal setting for great conversation and, at the end of the day, the satisfaction that comes with bare trees, a pile of fruit and the anticipation of olive oil — our last bottle of olive oil from Julie’s grove was out of this world amazing.
So, of course we said, “yes, we wouldn’t miss it for anything — rain or shine we’ll be there with picking fingers ready.” That was 2014, the year the entire crop was lost to fruit flies. It was a huge disappointment, especially for Julie and her family.
But 2015 was a new year with a new crop. November came and we cleared our schedule, prepared a picnic complete with vino and hit the road. First traveling north along Highway 101 and eventually finding our way to Highway 121 into the Napa Valley and along side roads to Julie’s.
When we arrived we found at least 40 people hustling from branch to branch with more on the way. By lunch we grew to a group of nearly 75 or more. Children were under foot, racing around with buckets, playing a little here and gathering a little there.
In fact, that’s how most of us spent the day.
Laughter, a perfectly long lunch break Napa style and focused picking in between. It honestly felt like a wedding meets a harvest party.
This is one of those “make life amazing, find joy in the simple things” experiences.
Or, in the words of Henry David Thoreau, “The true harvest of my life is intangible — a little star dust caught, a portion of the rainbow I have clutched.”
Tips for hosting a successful harvest party:
- Invite friends – lots of friends. Don’t hold back. The more the merrier. Just make it BYOB (bring your own bucket).
- Provide food, plan potluck extras and beverages. Food = Happy.
- Organize a scavenger hunt. Julie hid golden eggs for the children to find. The lucky winners receiving a bar of chocolate.
- Make it a party. Ask musical friends to bring instruments, have cups handy for wine but always keep the goal in mind: fruit in buckets, not on trees.
- Celebrate being together.
Grow What You Love.
*Note: It takes approximately 20 to 25 pounds of olives to make 1 quart of olive oil. A 5 gallon bucket holds about 30 pounds of olives. However, amounts vary depending on olive type.