Now in its third year, the Scripps Olive Harvest Festival welcomed an assortment of volunteers, organizers, staff and alumni, eager to don a pair of protective gloves and set to work picking ripe olives from trees surrounding the Humanities Building.
But this autumn’s festival is different. According to Crystal Weintrub, one of the organizers of the event and the sustainability coordinator at Scripps, the past two harvests occurred in early November as opposed to late September. The recent heat wave caused the olives to ripen dramatically this month. Luckily, event planners were unfazed by the unexpected ripening and were able to pull off a successful harvest on short notice.
Every year, the harvested olives are used to make and sell olive oil. Weintrub said that many of the sales, which are handled by the Scripps Parent and Alumnae Engagement Office, come from alumnae, but the olive oil can also often be purchased at the student store. All proceeds from the olive oil sales are put towards new and existing sustainability initiatives on campus. Such initiatives include continual funding for the Sustainability Entrepreneurship Coordinator position at Scripps, held by Weintrub.
Aside from the main purpose of raising money for sustainability initiatives, the event is meant to be a community-building activity, not only at Scripps, but in the larger surrounding communities.
“It gets publicized in all the local media from Pasadena to the Inland Empire,” Weintrub said. “The invitation is open to anyone in the community—alumnae, parents, students, anyone that wants to come.”
Indeed, the cause and pleasant ambience of the festival attracts a wide variety of volunteers.
“I think it’s really nice,” Krithika Rao SC ’19 said. “I wasn’t really expecting so many people to come, but there are people from the community, people from Scripps, people from all of the 5Cs coming.”
Among the various volunteers are some who have returned for the harvest all three years. Tom Adkins, the General Manager at Scripps Dining Hall, said that he has enjoyed volunteering at the festival every year.
“It’s just good to get out and really help with something,” Adkins said, especially when he is able to see new sustainability initiatives put into place at Scripps as a result of work done during the harvest.
The olive oil produced after the harvests has also been critically acclaimed in past years. In 2013, the olive oil that was produced from the first-ever Olive Harvest Festival was awarded “Best of Show” at the Los Angeles International Extra Virgin Olive Oil Competition. The following year, Scripps College Olive Oil was awarded the Silver Medal in the “delicate” category at the same competition.
While the Olive Harvest Festival has been successful in past years in terms of sales and praise, it has not gone unchallenged since its inception in 2012. This year’s festival was especially exciting because it was a triumphant return after a one-year forced hiatus.
“Last year we weren’t able to do it because there weren’t enough olives from the drought,” Weintrub said. “We were all really excited to be able to do it this year.”