By Sophie Fahey '17
For the past three years, Scripps has held an Olive Oil Harvest during the Fall as part of “The Olive Oil Project.” This year’s harvest was held on Sunday, Sept. 27.
Scripps’ Olive Oil Project webpage explains, “The Olive Oil Project is the culmination of faculty, student, and staff efforts to turn Scripps’ edible landscape into a virtual classroom for hands-on learning and embrace an ethic of sustainability.”
The idea for the harvest came from Professor Nancy Neiman Auerbach’s Core II course, “The Politics and Culture of Food.” In the class, students decided to find out whether they could produce olive oil from the olive trees around the campus.
Scripps’s first olive harvest was held on Nov. 9, 2012. Students, faculty, staff and community members harvested olives from the olive trees bordering the north and south walkways of the Humanities Building. Over 700 8-oz bottles were produced from that harvest day.
These olive trees have always been a part of the Scripps campus. In the 1930s, what is now Elm Tree Lawn and the Humanities Building was a flower cutting garden and olive grove. Trees were removed as the college expanded. In the 1960s, Scripps students protested the removal of the olive trees, resulting in the replanting of 60 of the trees around the walkways near the Humanities building.
Crystal Weintrub, Sustainable Entrepreneurship Coordinator, explained: “[The olives have] to be pressed in 24 hours, then it has to be tested in order to be considered extra virgin olive oil. After that it has to settle for a short amount of time in a large tank, and all the little pieces of fruit settle to the bottom so it becomes really clear and then whatever settle at the bottom is taken out. It’s kind of a simple process, but they’re very strict about testing it. Extra virgin olive oil is the finest of all the olive oils. It has to be cold pressed so the machine doesn’t heat up or change the chemistry of the oil. And so even though it’s really simple—there’s no additives or industrial process that it goes through. A mechanical cold press basically juices the olives, so it’s very clean, which it’s why it’s so good for you. A lot of the community come out, alumni, parents, people that work here. Students help, they help you check in or taking pre-orders. They play a very important role in helping everything go smoothly. It’s good to have a lot of student volunteers.”
Last year, Scripps College Olive Oil won a Silver Medal in the “delicate” category of the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition. In 2013, Scripps’ olive oil earned a “Best of Show” award in its category. The competition started back in 2002, and Scripps competes against countries from the Northern Hemisphere.
Olive Oil from this year’s harvest should be available for purchase for $45 at the Scripps Student Store and the Huntley Bookstore in late Oct. It can also be preordered for $40 now. All profits from the olive oil go towards sustainable initiatives at Scripps.