the olive harvest in Beino

a family tradition

To capture the beauty of the land where the olives grow, we asked a film maker in Beirut, Nessim Stevenson, to film the olive harvest. Nessim spent the day in Beino getting to know the team as they harvested. The Akkar region, where Beino is situated, is a region of beauty Lebanon. His short video records the harvest and those whose livelihoods depend on it. Fares Fares, the uncle of Youssef Fares the owner producer of Zejd, was there to welcome him.

photo of Fares Fares aged 91 standing by a wall holding a stick

a lifetime of experience

Fares Fares, 91 years of age at the time, has had a lifetime experience of working with olives. He is still actively involved in the harvest and looking after the land. His grandfather bought the land in the days when olive oil was made very differently. Horses once turned a stone mill to crush the olives. Whilst production methods have changed since then, Fares still follows agricultural practices his grandfather would have recognised. Maintaining a healthy soil using natural fertilisers rather than the chemicals, is key. Producing olive oil from a native variety of olive, souri, rather than a more commercial non-native species, is safeguarding Lebanon’s culinary heritage.

view of olive grove in north Lebanon from a drone

traditional olive harvesting

Harvest time in Lebanon depends on the weather and ripeness of the olives. A team of local workers spend around a month from early morning til late at night, hand picking the olives and helping with the processing. They are careful to avoid bruising the olives, since even a small tear in the olive’s skin can set off the oxidisation process which impairs the quality of the oil. While intensive olive farming use tractors to shake trees, this can damage the shallow roots of the trees. Terraced farming requires a more traditional method of harvesting. 

mohammed holding a stick and smiling at the camera

Seventy seven year old Mohammed is immensely proud that he’s worked with olives all his life. He and the other team members string nets up between trees to catch the olive and lay sheets on the ground to make collecting easier.

Rabih Najib harvesting olives

Rabih, who started working on olive harvests when he was 15, is an expert at judging when an olive is ripe from the slight changes in its skin texture.

unsung heroes

More often than not, it is the women who are doing the more time consuming work. Theirs is the arduous job of sifting through the olives picking out twigs and leaves so that quality is not compromised. They’re the unsung heroes of the olive harvests. 

sorting through olives during the harvest

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

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