the olive harvest in Beino

Behind every jar of olives and tin of oil from shorkk, there’s a personal story of skilled craft and dedicated generations of local Lebanese farmers. The photos below show some of the team behind the olive harvest on the land of Fares Fares, the uncle of Youssef Fares, owner and producer of our Zejd products.

Fares Fares, 91, pictured here amongst his olive trees, has a lifetime of experience in caring for them and is still actively involved in the harvest.  The land was bought by his grandfather in the days when oil was made very differently.  Then, horses turned the stone mill which was used to crush the olives to make the oil.  Whilst production methods have changed, he has kept to the tradition of maintaining a healthy soil using natural fertilisers rather than the chemicals used in intensive farming.  Fares’ lifelong practice of small scale sustainable agriculture has also helped to safeguard his country’s food heritage by ensuring that olive oil continues to be made from souri olives, a variety native to Lebanon and dating back to the Phoenicians.

Fares Fares on his land in north Lebanon

Small scale, sustainable, and very much community farming: every year at harvest time, a team of local workers spend around a month on Fares’ land, carefully hand picking the olives to avoid bruising them.  Even a small tear in the olive’s skin can set off the oxidisation process which impairs the quality of the oil.  And they take care not to damage the new twigs from which next year’s harvest will grow.  This delicate, painstaking process also safeguards the health of the trees’ roots, which are shallow and so at risk of damage from the machinery used on intensive olive farms.

view of olive grove in north Lebanon from a drone

Mohammed, pictured here with his winning smile, is 77, and proud to say he’s been working with olives all his life.  Nets are often strung up between trees to catch the olives, while sheets are laid on the ground to make collection easier. The arduous task of sorting through the olives, removing twigs and leaves which can compromise quality, is done by hand.

Mohammad carrying a stick for olive harvest in north Lebanon
Rabih Najib harvesting olives

This is Rabih, who started working on the olive harvests in north Lebanon when he was 15.  He’s already an expert at judging when an olive is ripe for picking from the slight changes in its skin texture.

Every generation plays their part in the hard work of hand picked harvesting, younger community members with their nimbleness and strength and the older ones passing on their experience.

 

olive harvesters having a break
sorting through olives during the harvest

Each jar of olives and tin of oil that you buy from shorkk connects you to a whole community of committed farmers. 

Thank you for your commitment to ethically sourced products. 

Here is a short video of the harvest in Beino.

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