Oil, toil, mud and sweat : do you have what it takes to experience the olive harvest in the Peloponnese ?

Each November, the olive fields of the Peloponnese echo with the sound of industry, as farmers harvest Peloponnese’s expansive olive tree fields. Weather permitting, and after several days of hard work, the crop will be bountiful.

Harvest (1957) by Peloponnesian printer Tassos

It is a long-standing tradition that during harvest, the whole village helps. Men, women and children join in to the best of their ability, whipping the olives out of the heavily laden trees, and onto a wide woven fabric below that is then gathered into a bunch. The olives are thus transferred into sacks, transported to the olive press at the end of the day, and there pressed into Peloponnese’s green gold : olive oil, extra virgin.  After a hard days’ work, the village retires for a big dinner, where they recap the day’s events, comment on the harvest, and relax ahead of the next morning.

Traditionally, the olive harvest was hard, back breaking work done using sticks and pikes. In our day, the process is mechanical, using electric rotating whips and grips to whip and shake the olives from trees. It’s still hard, but much less than what it used to be.

Olive Trees (1965) by Peloponnesian printer Tassos

This season, I will be joining the olive harvest in a field of 300 trees owned by my family in the village of Chalazoni, in SW Peloponnese. I will be there from the 3rd to the 14th of November, and I am looking for 2-3 friends to join me, provided that they are prepared to help out in the field. We will be attached to a professional harvesting crew, and we will be given appropriate instruction in using the tools and gear, harvesting techniques, and safety procedures. Weather permitting we, will work for 8 hours including lunch & coffee breaks. In case it starts raining, and it always does, then tools are down until the next sunny spell, whether it is an hour, or a week away.. it’s how it goes.

Rain during harvest, Tassos, Greece
Storm in the valley (1953) by Peloponnesian printer Tassos

In the afternoon, we will rest and recover, and get acquainted with the history, ancient lore, and cuisine of southern Peloponnese. We’ll enjoy a range of traditional dishes and flavours, with plenty of vegetarian or vegan options, and loads of great wine – all produce will be organic, and locally grown.  For the rainy days, I have planned a range of activities nearby, including photography and urban exploration. And did I mention that I have installed a proper sauna cabin in the farmhouse? Nothing like relaxing one’s muscles in 100c steam after a hard day’s work !

In exchange for your help, I am offering free* shared accommodation in a village farmhouse and all meals included. All you have to do is roll up your sleeves and join me to work, as well as cover your tickets to the village. Some terms & conditions apply – see below.

Olive Grove, House, Monk, Orthodox, Hagiography, Iconography, Byzantine
The House of the Olive Grove (1998) by Monk Anastasios

*Terms &Conditions

Spaces : Space is limited to 3 persons. Please be prepared to share a room if you’re travelling solo (same sex sharing). If you are not comfortable sharing a room in a household, but still wish to join, independent apartment rental is also possible at EUR25 per person.

Work : We will work for up to 8 hours in the field each day. Less in case it rains. We will have 1 hour lunch break and hourly coffee breaks.

Food & lodging: I am offering shared accommodation at my family’s farmhouse, plus breakfast, lunch & dinner.

Opting out : If you decide the field is not for you, or you want to take a break, or opt out, I will kindly ask you to pay EUR5 per hour up to EUR40 per day, to enable me to cover costs and hire a replacement.

Length of stay : You are welcome to stay for as long as you like between 3 and 14 of November.

Weather : There will be no work in the fields when the weather’s bad. In this case, you will still be my guest, and join me in breakfast, lunch, and dinner for free

Transfers : I am also offering you free transfers to and from the nearest coach station in Kyparissia.

Deposit : Due to the very limited spaces, I am asking you for a EUR50 deposit. Your commitment will help me confirm and organise workforce availability, secure the equipment, and purchase necessary provisions. This deposit applies for any length of stay, and it will be refunded upon departure, minus any opt-outs you may wish to make during your stay.

Other costs

Flights : Return flights to Athens are generally inexpensive in November. A low cost fare from London costs between £50 and £90 return

Coach : There are 4 coaches per day between the nearest town of Kyparissia and Athens coach station. The cost pp is EUR25

Transfers : Public transport from the Αiport to Athens Coach Station costs EUR10 pp. There is the X93 bus that takes you directly there (every 30-40 minutes). You can also take the Metro to nearest station Eleonas (plus 15 min walk or a short bus ride). Or you can take a taxi for EUR35. I will pick you up from the coach station of Kyparissia.

Interested in joining me? Have any questions I haven’t answered yet? Contact me at explore@explorabilia.co.uk

This is the farmhouse we’re going to stay at :

Frequently Asked Questions

Uhh .. how much work are we talking about ? It is manual work in a field, but nothing an able person can’t do. We’ll work together with an experienced crew, and contribute to the best of our ability, with ample breaks for lunch and coffee. There’s a variety of tasks relating to the olive harvest, and some are easier than others. There will also be a range of ancillary tasks like pruning, logging, supply or cooking you can help with, and you can even throw in the towel and take a few hours or a day off (as per the terms and conditions). You can try some tasks, and then we can discuss what suits you best, but be assured that I would never ask you to do something you don’t feel comfortable with.

I’m broken, and wanna go home : I will help you make the arrangements according to your wishes, and give you a ride to the coach station

This is so much fun.. can I stay more ? : Absolutely. I will only be there from the 3rd to the 14 of November, but if you want to stay longer it can certainly be arranged, and I will ensure you get the same deal, and that you are close to family and friends.

Will there be time to do anything outside field work ? : Of course ! Because all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy. I run tours in the SW Peloponnese, and I can guarantee you there are surprises in every turn, and very close to where we’ll be. I will lead, or be glad to join in some of these activities (ranging from photography, urbex, botany, sightseeing, and much more) but you will also have plenty of free time to explore nearby towns and villages on your own.

What’s the situation with Covid19 : At the moment, Greece is open and welcomes guests from many countries. Please consult the official state guidance and also guidance from your country of origin for details. Local Covid19 guidance will also be observed while we’re in Greece.

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