Olive Pickers of Puglia

Olive pickers


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The guy in the foreground is a Moroccan who spoke near perfect English, his Italian boss is behind him. He spoke no English. This friendly worker was one of a team of men picking the olives with special ‘animated’ rakes and they drop onto the netting below for collection.

He was quite happy to be photographed and was even happier to try out his English on me. There are as many Olive Trees in Puglia as there are people in Italy, or so we are told. That’s around 60 million. No wonder they can produce vast amounts of superb oil from these wonderful trees, some of them centuries old.

We walked through a lot of groves, the neatest was the one below with not a blade of grass disturbing the growth of the trees. The owner of these groves is apparently a bit of a hippy, working barefoot on his beautiful fields, heaping the soil around his beloved trees to allow his delicate olives to roll away from the tree in the nets he would be putting down for them.

They harvest olives in three ways, the one above where they rake the trees, or they shake the whole tree with a tractor vice grip ( the least friendly method ) or some are hand picked ( very labour intensive ). I suspect that the Hippy method is hand picking with silk gloves.

Old trees are marked with plastic labels and the really old ones with metal labels and are very well watched by the authorities, from satellite technology these days.


I found these trees a treat to walk by, many of them with sculptural trunks looking like bones that have fused together. A wonderful sight on a wonderful site.


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