OLIVES played a major role in the life of Professor Stan Kailis when he was young and as an adult they became his life work.
Growing up in a Greek family, he often picked the stone fruits from trees in his garden and pickled them with his grandmother.
His passion for the olive blossomed in later years and for past two decades Prof. Kailis has worked in the field of olives and the Mediterranean diet.
A favourite moment in his career was helping resettle several trees in a Como park about a decade ago.
South Perth council members were concerned about three olive trees – which had to be moved as the freeway was extending – growing near the Swan River.
“They asked me if they were significant trees and I tracked them down to some aerial photos taken in the 1920s, so they would have been about 70 years old,” Prof. Kailis and co-author of Producing Table Olives said.
“I replied that they were significant: they would be the oldest olive trees in South Perth and they asked me where they should put them.
“I said ‘In one of your parks’ and they went through their inventory and found a park called Olives Reserve.
“We transplanted them there (where they remain today) and they didn’t miss a beat: the olives kept growing and when the right time came they were picked.”
Prof. Kailis hosts Planted Plucked and Pickled at the Perth Greek Festival on next weekend, focusing on the history, planting and propagation of olive trees.
Tips for growing table olives
– The easiest to grow are Kalamata (black) and Manzanilla (green)
– They need about eight hours of sunlight everyday
– Buy a small tree to plant about 18 months old, rather than an older variety which will become stressed and suffer
– Water mainly over Christmas, once a week
– Grow them in pots (size of plants will be restricted) or in the ground
What: Planted Plucked and Pickled at the Perth Greek Festival
Where: State Library of WA, Perth
When: October 20