With modern machinery, a well-kept olive grove and the right attitude, three people can go a long way today’s olive oil sector. Antonio, Pasquale and Domenico definitely have plenty of attitude, and on this day they harvested more than 6,000 kg of olives, filling an entire truck while still being very nice to some photographer who showed up out of nowhere and could not stop asking questions. The olives belong to Antonio’s family farm, Biorussi, nestled between the Gargano hills and the Lake of Varano, in northern Puglia.
A small business like this one, striving to produce large quantities of extra-virgin olive oil while maintaining the high quality of a small-scale family operation, inevitably relies on the efforts and dedication of small groups of people who find themselves trying to enjoy the amount of work that is usually done by large teams of underpaid workers, or by machines. And in a sector as diverse and horizontal as Puglia’s olive oil culture, for some it’s not even their main job. “These are actually my winter holidays”, Pasquale explained to me while we drove back on the truck, “I work in a FIAT factory, managing a team of ten people doing quality control. But look at all these olives, there is too much work here. I just couldn’t miss it.