Fruiters d’un Temps: Campaigns to recover and distribute traditional varieties of fruit trees
The Balearic Islands have always been known for their rich variety of fruit trees*. However, over the last decades, industrial production systems have favoured the arrival of new, foreign varietes, chosen for their yield instead of their quality, which have pushed traditional varieties out of the market, in spite of the latter being tastier and better adapted to their surroundings.
Having become aware of this situation, and given the impossibility of buying the traditional varieties in commercial plant nurseries, Slow Food Illes Balears began the project Fruiters d'un Temps in January 2008.
Fruiters d’un Temps is a campaign to recover and distribute traditional varieties of fruit trees in the Balearics, which are in serious danger of genetic erosion and have been displaced from the market. 2010 was the third year this campaign has taken place.
With the support of one of the top authorities in local vegetable varieties and the cooperation of one of the last plant nurseries that still produces local fruits, we offer the possibility of purchasing trees from a catalogue of 159 varieties. After an order is placed, a year must pass to allow time for the grafting and development of the trees. Orders can be made through our web page or by post.
The previous edition of this campaign included 15 species and 117 varieties, to which we have added, in 2010, 42 new varieties: 2 apple trees, 1 pear tree and 10 fig trees; as well as 4 new species: 1 holm oak, 7 citrus trees, 11 almond trees and 10 vines, bringing the total up to 159 varieties that are being recovered.
We have followed various criteria when choosing the species for the catalogue. The varieties offered are interesting because of their cultivation characteristics, dates of ripening, adaptation to the local environment, organoleptic quality and gastronomic excellence.
The new species in the third edition of the catalogue are all often found in our fields. There is no shortage of holm oaks, citrus trees, almond trees and vines, but most of the new plantations use foreign varieties. The holm oak is a great unknown, as people are not aware that the sweet varieties are edible.
A great deal of these recovered varieties were at the point of no return. Additionally, based on this collection, the department of Agriculture of the Balearic Government has created an experimental bank, through the IRFAP (Institute of Agricultural and Fishing Research) at the agricultural investigation farm of Sa Canova, in Sa Pobla (social department of Sa Nostra).
Huge biodiversity at stake
*The Balearic Islands offer ideal conditions for fruit tree cultivation. Here is but a sample of the local fruit biodiversity, which includes:
251 varieties of fig trees
160 varieties of almond trees
70 varieties of apple trees
50 varieties of plum trees
40 varieties of pear trees
22 varieties of apricot trees
18 varieties of cherry trees
12 varieties of carob trees
8 varieties of olive trees
7 varieties of orange trees
As well as the loss of varieties, local agriculture suffered the impact of the touristic boom of the 60s, which led to the abandonment of agriculture as a way of life. To these sad circumstances we must add the drop in prices that agricultural products have suffered over the last few decades. The almond tree is the perfect example: there are more and more farmers who no longer pick their almonds, and these trees are disappearing; their price 30 years ago was 5€ per kilo, while today it is 1.5€ per kilo. This unsustainable situation inevitably leads to an unstoppable loss of agricultural and food biodiversity, with its subsequent effects on the landscape, the rural world and gastronomic culture.
For all these reasons, we must all work together to bring back this valuable heritage to our landscapes, our markets and our plates.
-Banco experimental de higueras Son Mut Nou