Olive Oil Harvest

Nov 3, 2010

We’ve always had the fantasy of helping harvest olives and making extra-virgin oil in the hills of Tuscany—but the campus of Caltech is the next best thing! What started as a student experiment in 2005 with fruit from a few vintage campus olive trees turned into a successful olive oil-making venture in 2006, and Caltech president Jean-Lou Chameau, a Frenchman who knows his flavors, pronounced it very good. Now the harvest has become an annual event, and we cannot think of a more enjoyable way for a foodie to spend a fall Friday. You don’t have to be a member of the Caltech community to participate (really, everyone in Pasadena is a member of the Caltech community), and they could use the help removing what appears to be a bumper crop of fruit from the 130 trees. After the picking, they’ll be trucked up to Santa Barbara to be pressed and bottled by the Santa Barbara Olive Oil Company. Volunteer harvesters can sign up to get first dibs to buy the oil, which is a rare and precious commodity around here and sells out quickly.

The harvest happens from 8:30 a.m. to 11, then harvesters are invited to join the community for lunch ($10 for those not on the student meal plan) and to enjoy demonstrations and tastings of oils and, inexplicably, escargots. The event will close with remarks from President Chameau and the recognition of the undergrad house and grad-student group that pick the most olives.

To sign up to help, or to learn more, go to



Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena