Olives to Oil: Biola Harvests Historic Grove

Biola harvested historic olive trees

Nov. 8, 2013 By Sarah Enriquez

Harvesting Biola’s historic olive trees, Biola University is turning olives into olive oil. Former Biola parents, Gordon and Karen Wiebe, will press and bottle Biola olive oil at their family’s olive oil company mill — Bari Olive Oil.

“Pat, pat, pat,” the olives drop into the blue tarp below like steady rain. Normally, those same olives fall to the ground across campus. Now, the olives are put into crates, transported, pressed and bottled for the second time in Biola’s history.

On Wednesday, October 9, Biola students and professors harvested the 60 trees in Biola’s Olive Grove Park — a landmark in the city as the only remaining olive grove of La Mirada’s original sprawling grove.


In the late 1800s, Biola’s Olive Grove Park was part of Andrew McNally’s estate, of Rand McNally publishing. McNally became known for producing the best olive oil in the nation at the time.


The olives harvested at Biola will be transported back to Central California to the Wiebe’s family farm and will be pressed, bottled and returned to Biola.


Although the Wiebes have been involved with Biola since their children attended the university, they only became familiar with the Biola Olive Grove Park in 2010 when they read an article in Biola Magazine about the park. After reading that article, they offered their services and expertise to the university.


“It’s great that Biola isn’t just letting them fall, but they really want to do something with these olives,” said Karen Wiebe. “We love coming back here for that and we love to see the enthusiasm of the students coming to help.”


Although it’s an experience for students to learn about the process of producing olive oil and to learn about Biola’s own historical landmark, it means much more to Gordon Wiebe.


“A way that God does something like this in our own lives is that you can take something terrible and make something good out of it,” explained Gordon. “The olive is very biblical from that perspective. You can’t eat an olive raw, but you can crush it and the oil comes out, and it’s useable.”


This year, Biola student volunteers assisted in harvesting the olives for extra credit in their biology and theology classes.


If you’re interested in learning more about Bari Oil and the process of producing olive oil, visit their website.


Written by Sarah Enriquez, Media Relations Intern. For more information, contact Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Specialist, at 562.777.4061 or jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu.



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