Gethsemane means “olive press”, so the garden was probably strewn with olive trees, presses, and many tools.
Since the day that the dove brought the olive twig back to Noah on the ark, the olive tree, and the products produced from it, have long been an integral part of Hebrew culture. The olive branch is a symbol of peace; olive oil often symbolizes The Holy Spirit as well as abundance or blessing.
Olive trees are squatty and gnarled, yet scripture often refers to them as beautiful. Olive trees begin producing olives at seven years. Olives are harvested from September to February. Green olives are collected first and ripe (purple) olives are collected later in the season. The more mature the olive berry, the more oil it contains. Mature trees often produce about 20 gallons of oil per tree. The largest trees found in the garden today are thought to be between two and three thousand years old.
The harvesters beat the branches of the trees to make the olives fall, then carefully gather them and take them to the mill. Olives are about 80% oil and bruise easily, which causes the oil to leak. The mill crushes the olives. Wooden wedges are used to keep the pits from being crushed which cause a bitter flavor. The oil obtained from this initial process is what we know as extra virgin olive oil.
After the pulp settles to the bottom of the basin of the mill, the oil is dipped out, then the pulp is removed to light-weight pliable baskets and placed on the press. Multiple baskets are stacked on top of each other and then weighted down with stones. Oil and juice drain from the press into a receptacle. As oil and water do not mix, the juice and oil separate quickly (after a few hours) at which time the oil is skimmed off the top. This is a lower grade oil than that produced by the initial process.