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Farm Village

Agriculture as the basis of the development of Hermigua

At the same time that the process of conquest of the Archipelago by the Castilians was completed, an agricultural model based on two types of production was established in Hermigua. Subsistence crops, characterized by family, smallholder agriculture, with low productivity and based on dryland and irrigated polycultures (cereals, potatoes, legumes and vegetables). And another of a commercial, export nature, which revolved around monocultures: sugar (XV-XVI), vineyards (XVII-XIX), cochineal or potatoes (XIX), being tomatoes and bananas (late 19th and early 19th centuries). XX) those that were most important.
Contemplating the terraces of Hermigua climbing towards the mountain, dotted with clusters of palm trees and colorful houses, brightens the spirit, but also shows that the only flat surfaces in Hermigua are those that have been created by the efforts of peasants. The elements of the cultural and natural heritage coexist in the rural space, the terraced slopes make up landscapes highly valued for their aesthetic and ethnographic richness.

On the other hand, this agriculture would not have been possible without the hundreds of springs on the island, more than half of those that flow in the Canary Islands. The water infiltrates through the basalts that crown the central plateau but does not cross the oldest strata of the base, thus forming an aquifer that oozes through numerous springs in the contact zone between these two layers.

The development of agricultural activity has undoubtedly been the common thread of the development of the Hermigua valley, which has been able to adapt to changing situations throughout the centuries, which has marked its idiosyncrasy, its economy, its demographics, its society and, through its transformation for use, its landscape.

Sugar cane cultivation (XV-XVI)

The planting of sugar cane and the installation of two sugar mills represented an enormous economic boom for the municipality of Hermigua due to the export of sugar to European markets during the 16th century. The splendor of sugar production would last until the middle of the 16th century. From the 17th century onwards these mills were no longer profitable, Canarian sugar could not compete in prices with that of the New World, and little by little they stopped working and the sugar was cultivated. cane. Today, the vestiges of both are preserved. 

Vine cultivation (XVII-XIX)

In 1531 Hermigua represented the largest center of wine production (46% of the entire island), the nearby Santa Catalina beach was also known for the presence of eleven wineries. The wine produced on the island was not exported (as in the case of Tenerife production) but was used for self-consumption or for the production of grappa. Towards the middle of the 17th century, after the collapse of sugar cane cultivation, viticulture acquired great importance for the island's economy.

Silkworm breeding (XVII-XIX)

The plantation of moral trees spread throughout Hermigua mainly during the second half of the 17th century for the breeding of silkworms. Hermigua, especially in the Upper Valley, due to its climatic conditions and abundance of water, offered unbeatable conditions both for breeding and for artisanal silk processing. 

Cochineal cultivation (XV-XVI)

The cultivation of cochineal came to replace the cultivation of the vine that had entered into crisis. The cochineal (Coccus Cacti) is an insect that parasitizes the leaves of cactus plants. It has the shape of a reddish-black grain covered by a white powder. They are placed on the stalks in rags that are attached to the peaks of the prickly pear leaves. When they have reached their development, they are collected and placed in the sun to dry. The final product is used to dye scarlet and carmine fabrics. The appearance of synthetic dyes made it gradually become a marginal crop and, finally, it stopped being produced. 

Tomato cultivation (XIX-XX)

The banana tree has been present in Hermigua since the 18th century, but it was not until the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, with the promotion of the Elder and Fyffes company, when it was consolidated as the main crop destined for export. To facilitate exports, technology would arrive, choosing Santa Catalina Beach to first build a small pier insufficient for the demand and later, in 1909, the davit, where fruit, foreign products as well as people would be shipped for several decades.
With this export crop, the town also experienced the greatest population growth, reaching 5,972 inhabitants in 1940. 

Banana Cultivation (XIX-XX)

The banana tree has been present in Hermigua since the 18th century, but it was not until the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, with the promotion of the Elder and Fyffes company, when it was consolidated as the main crop destined for export. To facilitate exports, technology would arrive, choosing Santa Catalina Beach to first build a small pier insufficient for the demand and later, in 1909, the davit, where fruit, foreign products as well as people would be shipped for several decades.
With this export crop, the town also experienced the greatest population growth, reaching 5,972 inhabitants in 1940.