“If you deconstruct Greece, you will in the end see an olive tree, a grapevine, and a boat remain. That is, with as much, you reconstruct her,” said Odysseas Elytis, highlighting in his few but meaningful words how intertwined the olive tree is with Greece.
Olive cultivation is an integral part of Greek traditions. In Greece, the harvest takes place from November to March, while in Australia it occurs from May to September, depending on the ripening of the olives.
This harvest is a captivating and highly labour-intensive process with a long-standing history. Starting from the tree and ending at the olive press, the olives are transformed into the final product ready for consumption. Olive oil holds a significant place in every Greek household and is a staple on every Greek table.
In an effort to allow students to experience this unique process and forge a deeper connection with Greek traditions and way of life, the Greek Community of Melbourne’s Language and Culture Schools organised an “olive picking” activity.
This event took place in the courtyard of Bentleigh Secondary College in Bentleigh, where olive trees had been planted.
The school yard echoed with children’s voices, smiles and above all, enthusiasm for this exciting task. Throughout the olive picking activity, the students asked a series of questions.
At first, their movements were hesitant, but as the hours passed and with appropriate guidance, each child was able to make a significant contribution towards achieving the goal, which, on that day, was the collection of the olives.
However, the gains went far beyond that. Through collaboration, the students gained a profound understanding of the work required to produce such an essential product like olive oil.
The olives that the children picked were prepared to be consumed by all the students. Additionally, the children had the opportunity to make their own delicious olive bread.
As a reward for their efforts, apart from the knowledge and rich experience they acquired, each student received a generous slice of homemade bread adorned with oil and olives.
Overall, the activity was a resounding success, fostering teamwork, cultural appreciation, and a genuine understanding of the value and effort behind olive oil production.