CERES Olives to Oil 2023

The olive tree in the empty lot around the corner that I picked two 10kg buckets last year has barely a handful of fruit this year.

Olives are biennial, bearing in alternate years; as I ride to work scouring for an alternate tree it seems like the olives of Coburg, Thornbury and Preston are in non-fruiting-sync with mine.

With olives hard to come by I wondered how this year’s Olives to Oil would fare.

When I spoke to Merrin Layden after today’s first olive collection at CERES I needn’t have worried – a steady stream of harvesters dropped off around 2 tonnes of olives.

And with another three collection days coming up Merrin’s estimating around 8 tonnes for the year – it’s by no means the olivalanche of last year but it will still be Olive to Oil’s second biggest harvest ever.

People were appreciative of this year’s calm vibe – groups of friends and families with loaded buckets drifted down through the day for the weigh-in.

One couple proudly reported their olive trees were from cuttings brought out from Sicily in the 70’s. A family of three generations turned up with the harvest they’d picked in their Sunday best on their way to another event.

At the end of the day just as Merrin and her team were packing up their scales a harvester turned up just in the nick of time.  

As she tipped her 10kg of freshly picked fruit into the bin – she said that this was the most joyful thing she’d done in 10 years.

Until you’ve been part of something like Olives to Oil it’s hard to understand how gathering a crop and bringing it together with others to be pressed can have such a deep effect.

If you’d like to get involved there are three more olive collection days coming up;

–          CERES Brunswick East on Sun 19th May 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

–          Sunshine Place Carpark, outside Visy Cares Hub on Sunday 26th May 11am – 3pm

–          Werribee Park Community Farm on Sunday 2nd June 11am-3pm

Merrin says that if the timeslots are booked up just email to sign up on the wait list olivestooil@ceres.org.au.  People always cancel their bookings and quite a few spots open up.

Merrin also says that she’s been getting calls from interested councils who have been contacted by residents requesting Olives to Oil in their area – she’s created an email template if you’d like to contact yours.

You can find out more about the upcoming Olives to Oil collections and get involved here.

Have a great week


CERES Olives to Oil - community harvesting


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