Taking part in harvest time is a great way to experience family life in the West Bank. Everyone gets a job: Little kids separate olives from leaves on the tarp beneath the old trees. Mom climbs the step ladder while Grandpa balances on a high limb to knock the branches to release the fruit. Meanwhile dad crouches over a small fire by a low rock wall, dragging on a cigarette while heating up a small pot of water. Soon all enjoy a break for tea with some local mint thrown in.
After enough tall bags have been filled, they are hauled to town-- by tractor, car or taxi--to the busy olive press. Depending which town you end up in, the press will either be a maze of conveyers and pipes, recently imported from Italy, or it will be a mechanized version of the ancient method: a wooden wheel turned by machine to do the initial crushing (instead of a round stone turned by donkey), and mechanized pressing of the flat mats.
Canaan Fair Trade, an olive oil bottler in the northern West Bank that markets the area’s Fair Trade Olive oil to the world, can arrange this experience for you, as well as provide tours of their facility.