Record RSA olive harvest

RSA olive grove chair John Cragg, Pernod Ricard sustainability manager Tracey Marshall and RSA member Trevor Slipper. Photo: Matt Brown.

A record-breaking olive harvest has given RSA members plenty to smile about.

The 1400-tree olive grove in Burleigh was planted by RSA volunteers in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VJ day.

Memorial plaques sit at the base of the trunks of the first 100 trees planted, a dedication to the soldiers who died.

Thanks to lots of pairs of helping hands, the annual harvest was completed in record time, with 14 tons safely gathered in just one day.

Marlborough Pernod Ricard staff descended on the grove as part of the company’s annual sustainability and responsibility initiative, Responsib’ALL Day.

“We realised we have a great sized workforce to harvest the olives in one day,” says Pernod Ricard sustainability manager Tracey Marshall.

The 500 wine-industry workers, from administrators to cellar hands, began the day at 8am with a warmup led by the vineyard operations staff.

Tracey says the harvest took the team between four and five hours to harvest nearly 14 ton of olives.

“That we can come in and get it done in a day is great for us and the community,” Tracey says.

Many returned soldiers who fought in World War II in Greece, Crete, North Africa and Italy sheltered from the enemy and enemy planes in olive groves.

The trees are situated alongside a popular walk and members of the public often leave poppies by the trees in remembrance.

The Marlborough grove is a testament to their service says RSA olive grove chairman John Cragg.

Harvesting had proven too much for the RSA to manage alone, he says.

In the past, harvesting the olives has taken up to three days with many volunteers needed to ensure the harvest was completed in time.

“It got to the point of so many trees we had to get a bit business-like.

“Historically, we harvested on Queen’s Birthday weekend because we depended on volunteers.

“We’ve been blessed with Pernod Ricard and their community day as part of our problem is attracting volunteers.

“We’re capable of mowing and pruning but harvest is beyond our capabilities,” he says.

Limited stocks of $20 750 ml bottles are available and the collectors’ item in the WW100 ANZAC Special Limited Edition packaging is now on special at $10.00 per bottle.

These are available from Marlborough RSA, 42 Alfred Street, Blenheim, [email protected]  or call 03 5785230

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