Edible Marin and Wine Country Fall 2011 : Page 43

Clockwise from top left: Williams’ olives; Ryan Williams and son; a bountiful harvest lunch; Williams Olive Oil Label; olives being dumped into bins. Photos: Lower left, Ryan Williams, www.ryanwilliamsphotography.com; all others Kirsten Jones Neff light, wearing gloves and carrying baskets. Teenagers (includ-ing my own) gab excitedly. Small children toddle along behind their parents and grandparents. This is the day of the Williamses’ annual harvest party. Louise cooks all week in preparation and lays out a table of Italian-themed dishes: frittatas, antipastos and biscotti. Conversations start up, hands move from tree to basket and, by late afternoon, the bins in the back of Jim’s old orange Ford are full of gorgeous green and purple olives. In 2010, the Williamses’ 65 trees yielded 1,700 pounds of olives. That translates into 72 liters of Williams Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil, designated spe-cially for the very same olive harvesting friends and family. “Some years it will be more robust, some years a little softer,” says Jim, explaining that because they do not sell commer-cially they can experiment with harvesting at the same time every year. “Luckily, we like it both ways,” he continues. The Williams have benefited greatly from the expertise of nearby McEvoy Ranch olive growers—especially that of specialist Samantha Dorsey, who has helped Jim make decisions every step of the way. The Williams schedule their annual custom press at McEvoy for the Monday following the harvest party. For those of us who like a lot of punch in our oil, last year’s fresh-off-the press Williams Extra Virgin Olive Oil was good enough to sip. “Louise and I get our reward every day,” says Jim. “Toast, marmalade and a little olive oil—that’s a perfect breakfast combination.” Kirsten Jones Neff is a journalist, poet, and middle school gardening teacher at the Novato Charter School. She feels extraordinarily lucky to live with her family in a small rural corner of northern Marin County. Links to her work and organic gardening and food blog can be found at www.kirstenjonesneff.com. EDIBLE MARIN & WINE COUNTRY FALL 2011 | 43

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