Organic olive harvest
Another important aspect of the lynx project has been learning about the land uses that cultivate much of lynx land’s landscapes.
One of the practices that we explored was olive oil farming, the second largest agricultural use of land after the Iberian pig farming. We visited Luque, an organic family run olive farm, to document them harvesting the olives.
The Luque family are 7th generation olive growers and 5th generation millers, so when it comes to olives they have a pretty good idea of what to do. In the late 80’s they began organically producing the olives, and at the time everyone thought they were ‘bad farmers’, but now they are leading the market in ethically produced olive oil. Their product is EDP certified, and in 2008 they pioneered the measurement for calculating their carbon footprint. Now they are educating others how to do so.
We met Raphael, an agronomic engineer, for a tour of what he calls; ‘the Mediterranean forest of agriculture.’
Raphael took us to their plot named Santa Sofia, a plantation where all of the seventy year old trees (growing in the traditional manner with three trunks) were the picual olive, a variety specifically used in oil. As we passed the trees he pointed out the cover crops that grew up inbetween the olive trees, a measure to preserve the ecosystem and encourage nature to love there. Raphael told us that last year there was a drought and neighbouring grape farmers lost all of their crops to rabbits, except the organic grape farms…because of the cover crops they had no need to go for the fruits.
We arrived to the harvest; nets were laid, mechanical machines and men with sticks knocked the olives to the ground, a woman used a blower to blow the olives to the centre of the net, the nets were then pulled onto the back of a pick-up and the olives dropped into a giant box. The cycle was repeated, and from picking to oil it could take just two and a half hours.