My favorite tree is the olive tree, the Halkidiki olive tree that produces the largest olives in Greece. Olive trees predominate the rural countryside in Sithonia, the middle peninsula of the Halkidiki (sometimes written Chalkidiki) province. Olive trees that produce olives for making oil are not usually watered; however, if a farmer wants to sell olives for eating, he will irrigate those trees, usually with buried sprinklers. Each olive tree can produce up to five kilos of olives. Olive farmers don’t get rich growing olives; our neighbor makes about one euro ($1.50) per kilo after he’s pruned the trees, cut the weeds, harvested olives, driven them to the warehouse or oil press, paid his tractor expenses–not counting blood, sweat and tears expended. Olives grown for eating have to be hand-picked while olives grown for oil are allowed to fall to the ground for gathering.
I’ve read that olive trees can have a life expectancy of up to 500 years. They thrive in dry, hot, saline soil. They’re forgiving even when cut back clinging to life. According to Greek mythology, the goddess Athena gave the Olive tree, to the people of Attica in a contest with Poseidon (his gift was a stallion horse). Athena’s gift won her the patronage and the honor of bestowing her name on the city of Athens by the people of Attica.