Cork harvesting is the process of removing the bark from the cork oak tree. Contrary to popular belief, this process actually helps the trees grow faster and live longer, allowing them to live 200 years on average. The trees also have to be a minimum of 25 years old before they are allowed to be harvested, and can only be harvested once every 9-10 years.
Cork harvesting is time-honored tradition and is an important skill often passed down from generation to generation. It’s an extremely difficult operation made to look easy by the expertise of skilled cork harvesters.
These experienced, and high paid workers use a machete and harvest the bark by hand instead of using any kind of machinery. They slice the bark into sections and then use a metal wedge to peel the cut out section from the trees. Although this is an intensive procedure, the harvesters are very careful not to damage the thin membrane between the bark and the tree’s trunk.
Once the bark is harvested, the farmers clearly mark the trees to ensure they are not harvested again for another 9-10 years. Thus, keeping the trees healthy and the sustainable resource in a renewable state.
Once the bark is harvested, it is dried out, boiled and compressed into thin sheets. Completely eco-friendly & cruelty-free, this wonderful material is then used to make cork purses, cork backpacks, shoes and other vegan fashion accessories. Cork can also be used for flooring and your typical wine stopper.