Biola’s olive grove may prove to be more purposeful than a place of rest for students. For the first time in 59 years, olives from the historic trees will be harvested for olive oil, thanks to Biola parents Karen and Gordon Wiebe, co-owners of Bari Olive Oil Co.
It was an early rise for Biola students Friday, Nov. 12, as nearly 100 students and staff assisted in harvesting olives from Biola’s olive grove and trees across campus. The olives need to be transported and pressed within 24 hours to ensure the taste and production of the oil. The grove, once part of Andrew McNally’s estate, of Rand McNally publishing, was known to produce the best olive oil in the nation in the 1800s. Friday marked the first time in 59 years the trees were being harvested for oil.
“This year, because we’re a little late, we will get about two gallons,” said Gordon. "There is potential for about 100 gallons, but this is a learning experience for everybody today, how to pick it, what we need to do to make it happen for next year."
“It was good to see the enthusiasm of the students to help hold the tarp and shake the trees,” added Karen.
The Wiebes read about Biola’s olive grove in Biola Magazine last year and, being co-owners of Bari Olive Oil Co., naturally wondered what Biola was doing with the olives. After a few phone calls and a year of coordinating, the Wiebes offered to press the olives and make “Biola Olive Oil.”
Jason Tresser, professor of biological sciences, assisted in coordinating the harvesting and recruited students to volunteer.
“I’ve been heavily recruiting students from the biology department, however, we also have several theology professors who have been recruiting from their classes so we have all shapes and sizes of students out here,” said Tresser.
Students in the art department will also be helping with the process by designing the bottle label for the oil.
Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.