Olive oil and olive pressing
The farm is in the early stages of producing olive oil, and we offer olive pressing facilities for farms without their own. Our oil is sold in limited quantities at the Hermanus Country Market. Contact us to find out more about our olive pressing facilities.
This is very much Mike’s project and one in which he is most passionate.
While Tom was still our farm manager, we planted about 150 young mission trees around the boundary of the lavender field. The reasoning around this was to use the same irrigation infrastructure whilst of course, lavender and olives seemed “to go together”.
We bought all our trees from Schalk of Future Trees, a most wonderful helpful young man. We chose Mission as it is a versatile oil and table olive. We experimented at first to check the viability of growing olive trees in a protoid acid soil, suited primarily to proteas and fynbos. Our biggest hurdle was that olives thrive with a PH factor of between 5.8 and 6.5 whilst our average PH is around 4.2 and as a result copious additions of agricultural lime are required all year round.
Once we were satisfied that the trees were taking to the conditions, we expanded with a further 125 mission trees across the river, in a different type of soil and protected from the wind. Although the PH was low, the higher clay content of the soil proved to be beneficial and these trees have done exceptionally well, probably equally attributable to protection from the main thrust of the winds prevalent in the area.
As funds became available, we continued planting olive trees in the lavender field and it now contains about 750 trees.
Finally, we filled the field behind the farmhouse with manzanilla, luccino, coratina and frantoyo, 500 in total, all supplied and planted by Schalk of Future Trees and his team. We now call this beautiful field, with the oak tree in the middle, “schalkveld” in memory of Schalk who unfortunately passed away a short while later.
Our fine gardener, Menzi Mnqayi, recently planted the last 200 frantoyo and coratina trees in the lavender field in one weekend, a wonderful achievement.
We still intend planting a small grove of calamata. This will then bring us to approximately 1500 trees and we feel that this is more than enough!
With every year, our crop has grown and we have high hopes for the future!
|2009||16kg||took 1 hour for Mike, Pete “witkop” Walsh and me to pick.|
|2010||34kg||took 2 hours to pick|
|2011||150kg||took just under 1 day for 6 people to pick.|
|We are hopeful that we will see 1 ton in 2012!|
Intensive Care of our olive trees
With the support and advice of Lombard de Wet of Agri Landboudienste in Caledon, we are treating the olive trees to a menu of organic compost, agricultural lime, rapid raiser, kelpak and various treatments to protect our investment against:
- Red spider
- Peacock spot
We have made use of a leaf analyzer to identify deficiencies. We rotate the types of treatments in order to protect the environment as best we can and only spray on a windless day.
Mike reads copiously to understand and prevent diseases. He literally has sleepless nights if he sees a problem and has no immediate solution!
The first pressing of our very own olive press was in March 2011!
Extremely conscious as we are that we are not farmers, and with a eye on the future, needing to sustain ourselves into our old age, after 18 months of soul searching, we finally took our hands off our hearts and imported an olive press from Olio Mio in Italy, as it happens, the first of this particular model which can process 200kgs olives per hour.
It arrived just in time to press our own crop of olives in March this year. With our specially bought generator not cooperating, after 3 days, the machine finally fired up, followed by a cacophony of sound as the olives were crushed by the hammer mill and then forwarded to the malaxing tank. After about 2 hours, we were able to savour our golden green oil flowing out of the pourer into the holding tank, a warm wonderful coating on our fingers to taste. What a moment!
Although the oil press arrived a bit late in the season, news carried fast and we were able to press for Koksrivier, just 3kms from Sanity Farm, for Carel and Elsabe de Wet of Baardskeeredersbos and for Mariana and Peter in Stanford.
Even when it is not our own oil, it is incredible to be called to taste the first drop of oil as it comes out of the machine, still warm and golden on the finger...truly special.
We hope to be able to market our olive press successfully in the coming years and to see a return on our investment...
Because our young mission olive oil is a little peppery for the average olive oil connoisseur, we bought in oil from Koksrivier, a mix of frantoyo and coratina.
We sell this blended pure extra virgin olive oil at the Hermanus Country Market under the Sanity Farm label and it already has a modest following.