A growing industry

Olives were not cultivated as a leading product by the young state, but today the fruit and its derivatives are a local staple.

olive 521 (photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
olive 521
(photo credit: ITSIK MAROM)
The olive is one of the biblical Seven Species, and not without reason. The olive tree is one of the most important plants on the planet.
Our people recognized this fact long ago, as illustrated in the Book of Judges where the other trees ask the olive tree to be their king.
Symbolizing peace, stability and long life, the olive tree can live to an amazing 2,000 years.
Excavations in the Carmel region have found evidence of wild olive trees existing in Israel as far back as 10,000 years ago. The olive transitioned to a cultivated plant as early as 6,000 years ago and served as a major agricultural product across the Middle East, especially in the area of Israel.
The most important byproduct of the olive is of course its oil, the only source for oil in early times. It was also greatly appreciated for its wonderful nutritious and health qualities.
From our area, the olive tree was “exported” to the rest of the Mediterranean basin as far as Spain and throughout Greece and Italy, now the biggest exporters of olive oil in the world.
In Israel, olives were always important but were not cultivated by the emerging state as a leading product.
Nonetheless, Israel has never been without some olive orchards in old settlements like Zichron Ya’acov, Rosh Pina and Kfar Tavor.
Today, as in the past, olives are grown by Jewish Israelis, Arabs and Druse. They can be found mainly in the Galilee and Judea and Samaria. Every year in October, the growers and villagers harvest the precious fruit with tractors or even a long stick (the method passed on through generations). The traditional olive harvest calls on all family members to participate. Their harvest is made into olive oil or prepared for eating in its original form, one by one.