Catalan Wine (In Transit #29)

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Places of Memory (In Transit #29)

Source: IT In Transit

Date: July 2014.

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Catalan Wine (In Transit #29)

  1. 1. Wine is made in the vineyard Catalan Wine issue #29 - July 2014 The world of Catalan wine tourism is vast and diverse. In fact, extremely vast. This time of year –in the summer—Catalonia’s climate invites us, without a doubt, to enjoy it immensely. Thus, being outdoors, enjoying the landscape, seeing the vineyards and strolling through the villages nearby become good ways to get to know the territory, the different wine proposals that the land offers and all the people who make it a reality day after day. Not surprisingly, if we look to our origins, and as many well-known people connected to the wine world often humbly point out, “wine is made in the vineyard.” I propose an exercise. Consider this statement to be true and let’s extrapolate it to the rest of the Catalan agricultural sector. Thus, we will likely be able to understand the importance of people in production processes. And it is common sense to think that a territory’s value depends, to a great degree, on the people who live in it, experience it, enjoy it, suffer from it, and manage it… If we are able to respect the land, pampering it and taking care of it to strive for balance, the result will be a happy and grateful territory that year after year will give us the best it has to offer now and in the future. This is why I would like to insist that a territory’s value comes from the people living there day after day. That’s the big difference from urban societies. We should understand that, in reality, the objective is to serve the territory and the land, and not to serve the people who live there. Not surprisingly, it is essential to recognize that our heritage is valuable, which is why it is vital to protect it and value it as we should. With these words, I am trying to convey a trend (not a fashion) of a way of living and thinking that will be here to stay for a while yet, and that continues to grow in all areas of society. In other words, where before there was an emotional (and real) desert, and where we could only hear dull and empty conceptual words that had been created artificially to define concepts that didn’t do the products justice (such as the price, the kilograms and speculation), now we are seeing beautiful oases where sustainability, cooperation, country, care, solidarity and empathy are prioritized. Right now, the hope that someday these concepts will prevail in the language connected to these local products makes me think that everything can be turned into poetry. For now, we must protect these “oases” that are just now starting to appear, because that is where the quality products will come from. The best way to do this is to value the brave and pioneering people connected to innovative projects in which the quality of the product –whether it be wine or food—is what matters most. To assign it the right value, we need information that allows us to get to know and become aware of this new reality. By raising awareness, we see value everywhere and we are able to recognize the value of a farmer who takes care of the vines, prunes them, dreams of them and speaks to them. Only thus can we create a chain of value between the territory and its inhabitants. Only thus can we understand that the Catalan product that emerges from the vines is beginning to stop being a simple reddish inert liquid that flows out of a bottle to become a precious living being with first and last names – and parents and sons, and a tractor, and the dogs that live in the garden and a farmhouse near a school and a hospital of a people and a country that wants to do things well. Again, I insist. Wine is made in the vineyard, the vineyard is made by people and thus, to acknowledge good products it is vital to acknowledge both the products and the people! Photo: Monvínic Guillem Oliva. Gastronomic Director at Monvínic (Barcelona) seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter EDITORIAL
  2. 2. Utopias, realities, constancy and resilience Catalan Wine issue #29 - July 2014 Sometimes L’Olivera reminds us of a bus. Since 1974 we have been a group that has been carrying out a rural cooperative experiment, in Vallbona de les Monges, in the dry interior of Catalonia. We say a bus because we are a diverse group of people that get on and get off, in motion, and we try to use our abilities and disabilities to serve a common project, based on the elaboration of our own products such as different types of wines and oils. We decided on the name L’Olivera (the olive tree) because it is a tree of our land, slow-growing, whose roots go deep and can live for centuries. The context, the history and the present Vallbona de les Monges, located in Catalonia’s dry interior, is a town surrounded by hillsides shaped by fragile dry-rock retaining walls, sheltered by a 13th century Cistercian convent. A century ago the population was over a thousand, but today a scant one hundred people still inhabit the town.The landscape is fairly typical of Mediterranean mountain areas: small plots of land, the survival of non-labor intensive crops (grains, olives), the abandonment of less accessible properties, the progressive loss of elements of agricultural heritage (terraces, cabins, fields) and the reduction in the number of people working in agriculture full-time. It was in this context that L’Olivera was born, nearly 40 years ago. A group of three young people with a Piarist Father with progressive ideas settled in this small rural town to create an experience that was alternative, socially integrating, and highly utopian. They were seeking ways of living and working that were “humanizing” and inclusive, the opposite of the urban and industrial development of that period. To some extent, they were part of the “neo-rural movement,” choosing to start a collective project in a rural area, as was happening elsewhere in Europe. From the beginning, this group wanted to make their living from the land, like their neighbors in the town, and to be a cooperative, due to the potential that this kind of organization offered. Little by little we began to understand that we needed to construct this economic project to serve a much broader social project. There were successive attempts to generate our own economy in which we came to see how farming in our town was an economically precarious activity and clearly insufficient for a group like ours. With time, we would reach the conclusion that in Vallbona, it would only be by cultivating, producing and commercializing our own product that we would be able to live off of our work, allowing people with different abilities to participate in the process, and for the whole of the process to be sustainable. We were losing our fear of being a business, in order to create another way of working: what years later would become known as a social and solidarity-based economy. What in 1989 was merely an intuition and the beginning of a new reality was consolidated over the coming years. Twenty-five years have passed and today we produce 17 types of wine and 4 types of olive oil, cultivating 40 hectares of vineyards and olive groves through certified organic farming. We have found that the only way to survive as farmers is to try to make sure our products have “added value” on various levels: economic, social, territorial, environmental and sensory. Food ends up being the reflection of a land, and behind it, the people that work and study the land, with all of its history. Since 2010 we have been developing a second project in the Natural Park of Collserola of the city of Barcelona (in the so-called “peri-urban agriculture”), with young people with difficulties, thus managing the city’s vineyard and producing its institutional wine. This road we have traveled, one of shared effort, complicity, struggle and profound internal debates, has brought us to be the organization we are today with some 75 members, integrating into this group some 34 “disadvantaged” people. If we look back, our history is marked by a desire to carry out a project in which the businessandsocialpartswouldgohandinhandwithoutclashing.Inasocietythatis“hyper-compartmentalized,” we try to live with a more holistic vision that makes social inclusion compatible with the elaboration of high quality local products. After all these years, we find that working as a group, the respectful transformation of raw materials, and an active participation in the business are valid tools for creating a workplace and a life that allows us to develop and improve our skills and capabilities. Carrying out this project in rural areas encourages us to continue to believe in the future of these spaces that have been seeing constant changes to agricultural and production models that raise many questions. The new concept that is emerging in Social Agriculture unites these elements (social action, the land, services for people, etc.), and thus it is something we can feel fully identified with. The core elements of the project L’Olivera is a cooperative that, from the rural and peri-urban areas, seeks to create a vibrant and viable organization that integrates three main lines of operation, three interrelated goals: Social inclusion: L’Olivera was created and works to create a space that integrates “disadvantaged” people of our society, especially those with a psychiatric and/or mental disabilities, where through working and living together, each individual can progress as a person at their own pace. Economic activity based on added value: by creating a forward-looking experience in our agrarian surroundings and producing quality products that add value to the entire chain of production: the land, the farmers, the L’Olivera, or how to build a cooperative project in rural Catalonia since 1974. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  3. 3. consumers. Cooperative Management: our umbrella and the engine that drives us is the cooperative model with all the character and possibilities that it presents. We adhere to associated work cooperativism in the framework of an agricultural activity. The potential of participation When we collectively evaluate our trajectory (in assemblies, strategic plans, etc.), one of the most frequent conclusions is that simply having survived at all is already a success. Below we will describe some of the insights we have when we think and reflect on why this project is still going strong, in addition to the usual difficulties we need to overcome, especially those related to the cooperative management, which was there from the beginning at L’Olivera and a model we have worked on and developed to create a work model that is unusual in rural areas (of “community land use”), where agricultural cooperatives are usually found. As we explained above, to make an economic project viable for us meant focusing on elaborating a quality product of our own. To do so we have invested in training, knowledge and technology, and we travel countless kilometers to get to know other places and experiences that can help nourish our project further in several of the areas we work in: production of wines and olive oils, cooperative model, the rural environment. Thus, we work as an actively participatory organization, contributing our abilities and getting many different kinds of returns, one of them monetary. We believe that, oftentimes, agricultural cooperatives have not created the conditions to produce high quality products –with a few exceptions—and that an important challenge for these cooperatives is to encourage continuous improvement. Remuneration in the agricultural cooperative environment is often worse than in the private sector and this may be due to the lack of a “culture of quality.” The challenge therefore is how, in a cooperative environment, we can implement policies that favor the quality of processes and that the members who do not work well do not condition the whole. Thus, we talk about turning equality (same prices, same salaries, same severance pay,…) into equity [of treatment] (same rights for everyone but closely tied to quality). By implementing policies to improve the quality of the processes and the end results, revenue goes up and, therefore, so does the remuneration for the members, thus favoring a more sustainable rural economy. In rural areas, sometimes we find that people resist believing in a better future, since the future that many generations have wanted was to abandon the countryside. To suggest that there is a future and opportunities here ends up being contradictory for part of the rural population and a great deal of constancy and strength is needed to prove to our neighbors –with hard facts—that there is indeed a future here. At present, we see the cooperative model to be a good tool, as it is an organization adapted to the times that allows workers to participate and have a significant social impact that goes beyond mere remuneration for their labor. In our experience, a cooperative is most flexible in the sense that its members can manage it more directly, and that it is easier to internalize situations going on in that context. Today’s economic crisis, for example, has forced us to reduce the pay scale that we had been developing for one year to balance equity, dedication and professional skills… Regarding the consolidation of jobs, the cooperative has offered job security to various families, and many of them through jobs for women with the possibility to participate in the business, which allows them to have time for their families and other benefits that come from having created a collective with a significant female presence, also in management positions. How we work as a cooperative If we look back, there are certain elements that belong to the functioning of a cooperative that have allowed us to survive. We can highlight ethical leadership, where those in management positions internalize the cooperative’s identity without ‘heritagizing’ it, sharing a common vision and focusing on the future. External support has also been critical, as part of the members of the cooperative and several members of the board were not physically present in the day to day running of the cooperative but participated in the meetings and the social events. The voluntary contribution of many members in the form of time, effort and money, or in other ways, is also a sign of identity and gives credibility to the whole project. The cooperative is “something more.” Regarding how the cooperative works, throughout our history we have scrupulously maintained our regular meetings and annual assemblies. The board meetings have traditionally been open to all members and this way of working has given us administrative transparency. Sometimes this has made decision-making slower or more cumbersome, but at the same time it has allowed these decisions to be more solid and durable. Over time we have been creating our own management structure that complements the structure of representation and participation and we are still testing the “fit” of the two. Traditionally, in different meetings, decision-making is by consensus, and in our 39-year history only once has a decision been voted on. We trust this consensus, although we also find that voting and quantifying things can also be a good thermometer to see how things are going in the whole group. Anther key that has allowed us to consolidate the project has been to be able to count on the support of experts. From agricultural production to the production, marketing, finances, etc. we have had the support of many different people who have allowed us to integrate their advice and knowledge into our project, thus building a stronger organization. This path is now leading us, in specific cases, to also share what we have learned, at times even beyond our borders...! Alongsidethisexternalsupport,ourexperienceatL’Oliverahasbeenenrichedbytwoelements:theparticipation in networks at different levels, and group training. As a cooperative, we belong to different federations and associations. We also participate in ethical finance experiences (FETS, coo57, etc.), a key factor for making the investments of the last few years. Training has also been an element that we have wanted to strengthen and share within the cooperative, allowing workers to improve their skills and abilities. A key element in this training has been an annual trip that we have taken to visit different projects in Spain and Europe for the past 15 years, which has allowed us to give a global dimension to the work we do every day, locally, discreetly and tenaciously. Throughout this journey, difficulties have been constant traveling companions that we have had to deal with daily. A collective like ours, with ambitious social objectives, needs a team that is capable of asking itself questions, examining itself and exercising constructive criticism. In our case we had difficulties consolidating a stable group, whose members
  4. 4. Thus, sometimes it is hard to harmonize the different levels of involvement in the project. At the same time, rural areas, at times a place we have wanted to “run away” from, become a difficult place to attract people to, the kind of people who are willing to join a project that seeks to be forward-thinking and innovative. The internal debates, in a group of such a small size, have often had high personal costs, and we feel “resilient” when after intense debates and polarizations we still remain on our feet to keep this project moving forward. At times we are struggling against ourselves, against the visceral skepticism about it being impossible to create real alternatives. Looking to the future, the most significant challenge we have is to continue to make our organization via- ble, with a long-term vision in which each person knows his or her job so that we are able to paddle in the same direction. The challenge is to create a group that can internalize and modernize our values to project L’Olivera into the future. If we are going to grow, more than expanding globally we would like to expand our network in order to replicate or share a model that we believe in. The challenge is clear, and there is still a lot of work to do. L’Olivera sccl. http://www.olivera.org/
  5. 5. Josep Roca. Sommelier at El Celler de Can Roca Catalan Wine issue #29 - July 2014 He arrives discreetly to the Espai Priorat 2013. At the Morera d’Scaladei he greets international prescriptors and well known DOQ Priorat winemakers, while he waits on line to fill his plate and his wine glass. He eats his lunch discretely as well, next to Albert Costa of the Celler Vall Llach and he continues to greet friends and acquaintances when it’s time for dessert, standing next to the coffee machine. He follows the procession to the Cartoixa d’Scaladei and he enters the showroom of the Espai Priorat: 36 wineries displaying their wines, their histories, their passions. He has a discreet and friendly conversation with the wine-makers, and I watch him make conversation with Ester Nin, then do a wine tasting of the Mas Alta winery. And in the middle of all this he agrees to be interviewed in the recently restored small cloister, which is the only sound that interrupts the Zen trickling of water flowing out of the fountain in the center along with an effusive hug with René Barbier, who congratulates him on being designated the world’s best restaurant. They smile and they don’t know that this fleeting encounter, and I imagine that afterwards in the showroom they will meet up again, has anticipated the course our conversation will take and how they both think the same about the Priorat. This question is practically a must: how do you deal with being on the winners podium of world cuisine? With much gratitude. We have received a strong showing of love and extraordinary empathy. We have to protect ourselves from success, and keep our distance. To be the best restaurant in the world is “nonsense,” it’s like having to choose the best wine in the world. We are receptive to being in the media spotlight because we want to show the world who we are. In fact, the award puts the spotlight on Catalonia in general. It has given us much greater projection abroad, and for tourism it is a crucial stimulus. It adds credibility to the tourist destination we are today. Two award-winning restaurants in such proximity (referring to elBulli and El Celler de Can Roca) show the world that this is a fertile land for culture and gastronomy. Your restaurant received the award for both your cuisine and your wine? Three worlds unite in one fraternal environment. The leadership in our cuisine celebrates together with that of the wine. When we compare ourselves with restaurants in other rankings, we see that they involve wine in a different way. At El Celler de Can Roca wine is fully involved, and with your focus always trained on the DOQ Priorat. There are various elements in the Priorat that leave a strong mark. It is a collection of recovered history, another starting point, a new way of looking at the land that is freed from the books of Bordeaux, which were constraining, and a discovery of the landscape that reveals itself with authenticity. It is the cradle of a way of making wine that stretches back centuries and continues to this day. There are many unique ways of making wine. Here the Carignan and the llicorella soil have a vibrant and fruitful relationship like no other place on the planet. And the sommelier has to interpret all of these relationships between the wine and the terroir? We must feel that we are ambassadors for the people who make wine, for the dialogue between man and nature, telling stories more than offering instructive definitions. Behind the wine there is a landscape, effort, drive, feelings, the ability to show how people made the wine…wine contributes to gastronomic enrichment, and today we have a privileged situation because we have consolidated gastronomy and our own tradition. The story, the stories, are the basis for communicating good wines? I understand that in today’s world, with wines of a seductive quality, certain nuances are needed, which are what make wines unique. And in the Priorat the wines are present, profound, elongated, they are alive. They are wines with a warm heart and a message. In the last 25 years, they have shown themselves to be extraordinarily alive, and now we need to showcase them to the world. A wine, for a special moment, and with whom? In the cloister of La Cartoixa, a Scaladei from ‘75, the most valuable bottle I have. I choose this one because it shows how the legacy of the red varieties that have a confirmed “sediment,” that they continue to surprise us, and should continue along this same path. It is the aroma of a privileged place that was born in the 12th century and that still survives in the 21st century. Ruth Troyano. Wine, moments, people. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  6. 6. He doesn’t tell me who he would share this vintage with, but I suggest René Barbier. In fact, when I spoke with René Barbier at Clos Mogador, he chose the same wine, for everything it helped them discover about the wines that would be made later on in the Priorat. And today, the Priorat is still fully alive. El Celler de Can Roca Can Sunyer, 48
17007 – GironaTel +34 972 222 157
GPS 41.993144, 2.80793 http://www.cellercanroca.com cellercanrocablog.com
restaurant@cellercanroca.com First published in: Ruth Troyano’s blog “Vi, moments, persones”. Photo: Josep Roca.
  7. 7. Catalan wines Catalan Wine issue #29 - July 2014 1. Three characteristics of the DO Alella It is the smallest DO or designation of origin of Catalonia and the closest to Barcelona. It is a land with good white wines of the Pansa Blanca variety, among others. It’s terroir is made up of sauló, a sandy granite-based soil. 2. ... of the DO Catalunya It is the most ambitious of the designations of origin, as it covers almost all of Catalan territory and it is designed for international trade, which is why it includes a mix of international and native varieties. 3. ... of the DO Cava It is the designation of origin of quality sparkling wines in Spain, but the majority are concentrated in Catalonia, with the cava capital located in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia. Macabeo, xarel·lo and parellada are the triology of grapes par excellence. 4. ... of the DO Conca de Barberà. Located to the north of the province of Tarragona, it is known for its high quality cooperativism. The rosé Trepat wines are not to be missed! 5. ... of the DO Costers del Segre It is the only designation of origin from Lleida’s provice, with a good coupage of native and international varieties with good value for your money. 6. ... of the DO Empordà Wines that are the result of the pairing of sea and mountains. It is a landscape of vineyards that overlook the sea. The Carignan variety, which we call samsó here in Catalonia, is most common. 7. ... of the DO Montsant It embraces the Priorat with its crescent shape and shares the same landscape and climate. Its wines have become highly acclaimed on an internationl level. 8. ... of the DO Penedès It is divided into the High (Alt) and the Low (Baix) Penedès, which is why we have many varieties that can adapt to the climate conditions. The Garraf area is making some interesting wines. 9. ... of the DO Pla de Bages Vineyards in the forests. The Picapoll grape is the native variety and is quite unusual. 10. ... of the DOQ Priorat It is the only DOQ (qualified designation of origin) in Catalonia (Priorat and Rioja are the only two to hold DOQ status in Spain). It is a land of llicorella (slate) soil, and varities such as Granache, Carignan and Syrah, which give these wines power and personality. 11. ... of the DO Tarragona Traditional wines (sweet and rancio). A designation of origin with an important past and future. 12. ... of the DO Terra Alta It is on one of the most important modernist winery routes it is the realm of the white grenache grape. 13. The 10 essential Catalan wines 1- Finca Malaveïna de Castell de Perelada (D.O. Empordà) 2- Vinya d’Irto Negre (D.O. Terra Alta) 3- Gran Caus Rosat (Penedès) 4- Fransola Torres (Penedès) 5- Clos Mogador (Priorat) 6- Furvus (Montsant) 7- Bru de Verdú Castell del Remei (Costers del Segre) Meritxell Falgueras. Sommelier. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  8. 8. 8- De Muller (D.O. Tarragona) 9- Cooperativa de Sarral Trepat Rosat (Conca de Barberà) 10- Albet i Noya Negre (D.O. Catalunya) 14. The 10 essential Catalan cavas 1- Kripta d’Agustí Torelló 2- Gramona Rosat 3- Jaume de Codorniu 4- Albet i Noya Brut 21 5- Can Feixes Gran Reserva Brut Nature 6- Freixenet Malvasia 7- Recaredo Brut de Bruts 8- Juve & Camps Brut 9- Privat Evolució 10- Nadal Salvatge Rosat
  9. 9. Catalonia. Protected designations of origin. Catalan Wine issue #29 - July 2014 Wine has been part of Catalonia and its culture, tradition and landscape for over 2,300 years. [...] Catalan winemaking is now enjoying the best times it has ever experienced. Its powerful wine sector leads quality winemaking throughout Spain, and its experience, mastery and way of working places Catalan wine among the world’s best. [...] Tou can read the full article, here: http://www.gencat.cat/agricultura/incavi/catalegsdo/ CatalegAngles.pdf INCAVI. Catalonia Wine Institute seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  10. 10. Young People with IVA -Ideas Values Attitudes-: Succés Vinícola Catalan Wine issue #29 - July 2014 The new video by Joves amb IVA focuses on the story of Mariona Vendrell, age 23, and Albert Canela, age 24. They are the co-founders of “Succés Vinícola”, a company founded in the shelter of the Viver de Celleristes (winemaking incubator) of the Conca de Barbarà. Since 2011 the company has experienced a growth in production, and its two wines, “El mentider” (The Liar) and “La cuca de llum” (The Firefly), have received various awards and special mentions. They are two red wines made with 100% Trepat grapes, the local variety of the Conca de Barbarà, which is the area the couple now calls home. They work with effort, drive and passion, taking to heart the company’s slogan: “We share happiness.” Joves amb IVA (Young People with IVA – Ideas, Values, Attitudes) is an initiative of the Centre d’Estudis Jordi Pujol, in collaboration with the General Directorate of Youth, and produced by Giny Comunicació, which aims to spread the word about profiles of young people who are committed to our society and who, from various professions, through civic action or through their own personal choices, they are governed by strong values, positive attitudes and constructive ideas. They are young people that excel in multiple fields, but who, quite often, lack visibility. You can watch the video “Succés vinícola”, by JOVES AMB IVA -positive ideas, solid values, constructive attitudes-, at the following link: http://vimeo.com/99826714 By Centre d’Estudis Jordi Pujol, in collaboration with Generalitat de Catalunya. A production of Giny Comunicació. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter FURTHER READING
  11. 11. Monarchy and the third way? Two improbable conditions Catalan Wine issue #29 - July 2014 In the last three hundred years monarchies have had to change to remain in the institutional system of the European nations. In the 18th century, absolute monarchs and the court’s officials were at the top of the executive, legislative and judiciary functions. In the 19th century this situation evolved progressively into constitutional monarchies. In this period, kings still held on to significant powers, such as heading and directing the government, appointing members of parliament, etc. Eventually, in the 20th and 21st centuries, parliamentary monarchs ceased to have any explicit capacity with regard to the three classic powers and, basically, their role was limited to symbolic and mediating functions. That is the price they had to pay in order to live on as part of the constitutional weave of liberal democracies. In the case of Spain, the monarchy’s continuity was interrupted by General Franco’s dictatorship, although it was eventually restored as Franco could hardly advocate the return to a republican regime after he himself had risen against Spain’s Second Republic. Therefore, it was General Franco who originally reinstated the current House of Bourbon. I think nobody can query King Juan Carlos’ part in the transition from dictatorship to democracy, as well as his role in the final stages of the 1981 coups (his role at the start and during the coups still remains shrouded in mystery). However, this practical legitimacy has been watered down by the king’s own behaviour, the ever-obscure question of his soaring personal wealth, the permanent opacity of the royal family’s expenses or the outrageous cases of corruption, still pending trial. The King’s recent abdication has taken nearly everybody by surprise, but the event itself is hardly extraordinary, as it’s been expected for the last two years. Now that the PSOE has become, in practice, a staunchly royalist party and no longer has “deep republican roots” -as Mr Rubalcaba said only a few days ago-, the classic republic vs monarchy dilemma has lost steam in the Spanish context. Some political forces in the left uphold the set of values and institutions that link back to the republican legitimacy of the 1930s, now combined with criticism against the obviously lacklustre Spanish democracy and opposition to the economic and social policies of the PSOE first, and the PP later, in response to the recession. From a Catalan perspective, in principle a new King doesn’t change anything in the general context. As I said earlier, the functions of the head of state in a parliamentary democracy are, fortunately, very limited. However, he is the commander in chief of the armed forces, which is a mere formality in Europe but significative in Spain, given its sad contemporary history in democratic terms. But today Spain is a member of organisations such as the EU and NATO. And, unlike in the 1970s transition to democracy, King Felipe will start his reign in the current constitutional framework. Thus, while King Juan Carlos will go down in history as the king of the democratic recovery, his son Felipe will do so as a “normal” head of state of a parliamentary democracy. At home, the main items on the political front at the time of being crowned are the management of the economic crisis and the Catalan political process. Therefore, the so-called “third ways”, if they are ever formulated, are not in the hands of the new king, but in those of the main Spanish nationalist parties (the PP and the PSOE), if anything. So far the third ways haven’t shown up and nobody is expecting them. In principle, the Catalan process remains unchanged. Its centre of gravity lies with the Catalan institutions, the civil society and the citizens of Catalonia. The next stop is the referendum of November 9. That’s why, in the present context, the voices supporting a “Third Spanish Republic” are alien to many Catalan ears. Not because they are republican, but because they are Spanish. In any case, the supporters of the third ways should clarify two equally fundamental questions: the precise content of a new constitutional pact and the procedures that would guarantee that the pact would be adhered to. First of all, it should include a recognition and a degree of self-rule that were acceptable to most Catalans. This is no longer possible without devolving significant powers to do with symbols, Europe and the international sphere. Also needed would be a precise shielding of some areas (language, education, mass media, culture, welfare, etc) and the capacity to develop Catalonia’s own economic and social policies, as well as a fair, stable finance system. Secondly, we would require explicit guarantees to ensure that Madrid and Spain’s institutions (the executive branch, the parliament and the judiciary) would abide by this agreement. The logic of constitutional pacts like the “Statute” is now outdated and obsolete. Catalonia’s collective history is too long now be misled by inexperience or naivety. Without sufficient guarantees, a “third way” pact would always be frail. And considering the previous experience, everything suggests that if the right to secede were absent from the constitutional rules, those guarantees would be rendered useless. If both conditions were met, there may be room for a potential Spanish Commonwealth that would include the monarchy. However, I think that one would need to be very uninformed to regard that as a realistic option. Considering the precedents, the compared experiences of plurinational democracies and the empiric data of Spain’s case, any rational analyst would conclude that the Catalans and their institutions will have to log off the Spanish constitutional framework at some point. First published in diari ARA. Ferran Requejo seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OPINION
  12. 12. Felipe VI, or “business-as-usual” Catalan Wine issue #29 - July 2014 Spanish and Catalan politics are moving on, slightly shaken. Or quite a lot, depending on how you look at it. The abdication of the king and the hasty coronation of Philip VI indicate that something wasn’t going so well in the upper echelons of the Spanish state. Changing kings almost overnight, which goes against the Spanish monarchy’s unusual tradition, is an indisputable sign that the regime of the Transition, the political continuity of Juan Carlos, has come to an end. The former king, now that he is no longer immune, is being flooded with lawsuits: for paternity, for illicit enrichment and for his apparent complicity with Franco’s regime. None will bear any fruit, I know, but it is clear that, as Bob Dylan would say, the times they are a-changin’. In 1978 no judge would have imputed the Infanta Cristina. It would never even have occurred to them. At that time the Spanish monarchy did as it pleased and it wasn’t necessary to forbid the Republican flag in the streets because not even the Communists wanted to wave it around. Today, only the PP’s Government and those who are nostalgic for the absolute calm of the Transition, become scandalized that people are no longer willing to bow down to anyone. The renewed royalists take refuge in the past and in their wise interpreters-actors of that past (the majority of whom are illustrious corpses) without giving credit to what is happening before their noses. Pure conservativism that, paradoxically, uses the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor to appeal the imputation of the Infanta. That was all that was missing, that the prosecutor who should prosecute tax fraud and similar crimes, was instead in charge of protecting the king’s sister with ideological arguments. The crisis of the “old” regime can also be seen in this agonizing collapse of Spanish bipartisanship. It has never been as perfect as the PP and the PSOE wished. And it hasn’t been because of the presence, first off, of the PCE (Communist Party of Spain) and then of the IU (United Left). But it also wasn’t possible due to the presence of Basque and Catalan nationalist parties, who for fifteen years have conditioned Spanish politics, forming alliances on the left and the right depending on who was in the Spanish government. This is also changing today, at least when it comes to CiU (Convergence and Union), no matter what Duran i Lleida says. Artur Mas’ CiU is not easily convinced anymore. His reading of reality far surpasses what was essential during former president Jordi Pujol’s time. Artur Mas’ form of nationalism is decidedly pro- sovereignty and those who choose not to believe this are wrong. I’ll explain why another day. With the Podemos political party now in the game, the threat to the imperfect Spanish bipartisanship is even greater. Podemos could become a pesky fly that that will never adapt to the game of covert agreements that has overshadowed Spanish democracy so much that people are bored by politics and abhor politicians. If Podemos were to yield to temptation and turn itself into a hammer of heretics, which is the case of Rosa Díez and her UPyD, it would all come to nothing. I don’t think this will happen. Podemos will fuel much discussion in the Spanish Parliament, just as the CUP did when it managed to enter the Catalan Parliament and despite its current stagnation. There will be some “bullfighting” afternoons in the near future, you’ll see. The last thing that was missing at a time like this was for us to hear about how 39 Spanish MEPs (of the popular party, socialists and eco-socialists, and the same Rosa Díez) had benefitted from a European Parliament pension fund through a SICAV based in Luxembourg. This has been known since 2009, when the British think tank Open Europe published the information as part of an investigation carried out by a German journalist, but today it is considered unacceptable that the fund allowed the MEPS to join voluntarily (some 500 did) to ensure they received a pension when they turned 60. And what is worse, the contributions of each MEP were 1,194 euros a month while the European Parliament contributed twice that amount – 2,388 euros— thus co-financing it. There are few citizens who get to have conditions like this, right? As I said: one scandal after another. The former socialist minister Magdalena Álvarez, accused of ERE fraud in Andalucía, has finally resigned as vice-president of the European Investment Bank. We would have said “thank God,” except that she left us with an enigma: “I am resigning because Guindos and Rajoy will have another person they will want to put in my place,” she said at the press conference. And at that precise moment we learn what this person will earn –and therefore what Álvarez is earning—when they take the job: 22,963 euros a month! In the end, it is a true bestiality in this Europe of austerity. An unforgivable immorality, too, that is probably only exceeded by Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder and Felipe González (three eminent socialists) when they sit on the boards of administration of big companies that they previously had protected or promoted from their positions as president of their respective governments. The crisis of the Spanish regime was not caused by what in Madrid they call the “Catalan separatist drift.” The regime will collapse on its own, without any additional help, because it is rotten in the inside. The business- as-usual people, those conservatives that haven’t realized that the past is only the prologue to what is to come, want to frighten us with the seven plagues of Egypt if anything moves and does not respect the new Felipista (Felipe VI) preservation of the status quo. As if we hadn’t had enough of preserving the Franco-era status quo under Juan Carlos’s monarchy, now the establishment wants us to be accomplices to the bad Government that has been corrupting everything for years. In Catalonia’s case, we are lucky that we still have the alternative to leave to build something a little better. This, at least, is the hope of a great majority of Catalans. Faced with the scenario I have just explained, I am sure that sooner rather than later it will be possible to vote about the future of Catalonia. Accept my bet. First published in Economía Digital. Agustí Colomines seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OPINION
  13. 13. What brought about Juan Carlos’s fall? Catalan Wine issue #29 - July 2014 I would give anything to know how the abdication of Juan Carlos I of Spain was handled. I do not dispute that it was his will that prevailed in the end. But it is well known that when it comes to being a State affair, many people would usually have gotten involved to determine the appropriateness, the opportunities and the consequences of that moment. And naturally, I would like to know what they have planned for the coming months, the brains of this operation, among which there must be one or more former Spanish presidents –the recent meeting between the king and Felipe González now has new significance—and all their court advisers. It is obvious, and can be backed by evidence, that the Spanish monarchy has been the main instrument for Spain’s stability and cohesion since Franco died. First, during the Transition, the monarchy ensured the continuity between the supporters of the old regime and the new regime. The monarchy was restored by the dictator to leave everything “well under control,” and at the same time it took care to present itself as the guarantor of democracy. In subsequent years, the monarchy has been essential for the weaving of a story which placed the king on a non-partisan level and thus made it easier for people to assimilate the bipartisanship game that until recently has been going on in Spain. And, lastly, the monarchy’s role has been a determining factor as Spain tried to maintain an idea of territorial unity, an objective that the king was deeply involved in from the start. But it is widely known that lately the monarchy had lost its symbolic strength to the point that not only does it not play its usual role anymore, it even contributes to destabilizing what used to be stable. The suspicions about the king’s true role in the coup of February 23rd 1981; the loss of political exemplariness when certain aspects of his private life were revealed and the covering up of dubious financial transactions, or the discovery of cases of alleged corruption in his family – which could send some members of his family to prison-, in addition to the deterioration of his health, are factors that must have weighed heavily enough to have convinced the powers of the Spanish state to consider him a “used up” figure that had depreciated to the point that they advised there to be a substitution made. Now: Catalonia’s process towards independence will have greatly contributed to the deterioration of Juan Carlos I’s value. Since that first unforgivable blunder in 2001, triggered by who knows who, when the king said that the Spanish language had never been a language of imposition, he not only did not keep out of the process of the shrinking of the autonomies, he endorsed it. And he remained guiltily absent from the statutory reform process that would end with the ruling of the Constitutional Court of 2010. The king could not longer do anything to stop the process, and it seems evident that the rush to replace him has something to do with the proximity of the Catalan consultation of November 9th. That leaves us wondering, however, about whether this abdication will serve to transfer his old role over to the new king, or if it will accelerate the monarchy’s crisis, and with it, Spain’s political stability, which is what is trying to be avoided. Republicanism will reappear –it did so a few seconds after people heard the news—and those who came out to defend the monarchy are as politically quaint as the king himself. Moreover, it doesn’t seem that the five months remaining until the consultation should allow Felipe VI of Bourbon –and especially not in the historical framework of 2014—to regain his role as the unifier of the Spanish territory. I’ve already said that I don’t know what calculations were made before the abdication, or what steps are planned for the coming months. Let’s not be naïve. But, at first glance, my impression is that this will pave the way for Catalonia’s process. First published in diari ARA. Salvador Cardús i Ros seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OPINION
  14. 14. An unprecedented social and political process Catalan Wine issue #29 - July 2014 The social and political process that a significant part of Catalan society is engaged in is so dense, complex and fast-paced that it is difficult to clearly appreciate the factors that explain its origins some ten years ago and its current state of development. According to opinion polls conducted at the end of 2013, 60 percent of the population held a desire to have an independent state (double the number than at the beginning of the process), a phenomenon which is still on the rise. Nevertheless, a huge number of political uncertainties re- main. At present no one can reasonably predict the probable future evolution and eventual outcome of this impressive democratic challenge to twenty-first century Europe. Not until the process comes to an end will it be possible to fully, precisely and rigorously examine all the factors involved in this phenomenon, which is as politically exciting as it is unprecedented. I say this because I think it is worth noting that the following analysis should be seen as tentative. We are awaiting more data and in-depth research to help us understand a process of politi- cal demands of a kind which has never previously been seen in contemporary Europe. Although it is a process which should be seen from the perspective of a long Catalan tradition of economic, political and cultural resistance, it was not originally intended to follow this radical, yet purely democratic path, ly- ing outside the framework of the Span- ish Constitution. In addition, the speed of events, combined with the consist- ency of developments in public opin- ion accompanying the mobilisation of civil society, mean that any attempt to understand the situation is all the more complex. One condition and two triggers From my point of view, the first thing of note are the conditions which made possible the emergence of the current process. No one believed at the time of the recovery of democratic institutions in Catalonia (in 1977 following the restoration of the provisional Generalitat or in 1980 with the creation of the first Parliament of Catalonia after the Franco dictatorship) a majority expression of a desire for independence would have been viable. Not because of the lack of a solid conceptual independence movement with a long political tradition, but because it was in the minor ity and political conditions during the transition to democracy, with no real break with the previous regime, meant the time was not right. In fact, the only Catalan political party with a republi- can tradition, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, was not made legal until after the Communist Party and following Spain’s first democratic elections. Nevertheless, after more than thirty years of self-government, the situation has changed. The existence of a regional government and the policy of ‘national reconstruction’ it has developed have made possible a strong sense of belonging and a degree of cohesion within the Catalan political community. While in 1980 four out of ten Catalans declared themselves to be ‘solely’ or ‘mostly’ Spanish, in 2014 this figure is not even one in ten. Conversely, while two and a half people out of ten felt themselves to be ‘solely or mostly’ Catalan in 1980, now the figure stands at six out of ten. The remaining three out of ten stand outside of this dichotomy. The failure of Catalonia’s latest attempt to politically accommodate itself within Spain (with the reform of Cata- lonia’s Statute, begun in 2004 and prematurely ended in 2006) was met with a response which was largely unexpected. The fact that a proposal which had the backing of 90 percent of the representatives of the Parliament of Catalonia was critically reduced by Spain’s judiciary (which according to experts left Catalan political autonomy in a worse position than under the previous statute of 1979), may well have reduced the public to a state of collective depression. Instead, distancing itself f rom its political representatives, civil society set to work and turned the page on the old autonomous model, in a display of a progressive ability to respond to circumstances. There were certain precedents in demonstrations between 2004 and 2006, but it is chiefly following 2007, with the failure of the new Statute, that an impressive, grassroots mobilization of society became apparent: all manner of separatist organizations emerged in large numbers; mass demonstrations of public support heralded a new era of political sovereignty; hundreds of books supporting sovereignty were published; informal referenda were held at the local level in 550 municipalities, including the capital, Barcelona, with the participation of over twenty percent of the population; around 4,000 promotional activities were organised in just eighteen months. And so on. There is an almost endless list covering this mobilization. To some extent it cannot be catalogued, since much of it has taken place online, and as such is hard to quantify, though it has an extraordinary scope. One can find few examples in post-WWII Europe of a process of constant and increasing mobilization of this magnitude, with the ability to rally two million people (of a population of seven and a half million) in a human chain 400 kilometres long. However, to explain this response to failure we need to add a factor that has not yet been studied thoroughly, which is the response to humiliation. The failure of the reform of the Statute could have resulted in a parliamentary political crisis, without causing the social reaction I have outlined. However, it appears as if the Spanish political elite wanted to profit from political failure in order to accelerate the process of dismantling the very concept of autonomous states. This process is advocated by the FAES Foundation, closely linked to former Spanish President José María Aznar, and is also in keeping with the desire of certain sectors of the PSOE, the Spanish socialist party. Arrogant expressions of such an ideology, humiliating the Catalans for their political failure, began in 2006, coinciding with the continued erosion of the political autonomy which Salvador Cardús i Ros. Catalan Internationa View. seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter IN DEPTH
  15. 15. had been won only after much effort. The state broke its agreements, publicly flaunting the notorious fiscal suffocation (with Catalonia making a net contribution exceeding 8 percent of its GDP, according to the Spanish government itself), Catalano-phobic campaigns were organized by the Spanish Partido Popular and, what is more, the Spanish press added to a resurgence of Spanish nationalism of a most unitary and homogenizing variety. In other words, they once more dismissed and attacked Catalan language and culture, keys to a feeling of national belonging. The appeal against the new Statute in the Constitutional Court (in spite of it having been approved by the Catalans in a referendum in the summer of 2006) and the painful sentence which followed, removing its very essence, gave way to the grassroots reaction. In July 2010 a million Catalans took to the streets of Barcelona under the slogan ‘We are a nation. We decide’, in a protest organized by Òmnium Cultural. On the 11 September 2012, one and a half million Catalans once more took to the streets with the slogan ‘Catalonia, a new European state’ this time organized by a body behind the popular consul- tations of 2009 and 2010, the Catalan National Assembly (ANC). On the 11th September 2013, two million Catalan participated in the 400 kilometre-long Via Catalana, once more organized by the ANC. It was a show of strength, in- telligence and organizational ability that surprised even the Catalans themselves. Political aggiornamento (renewal) The social reaction to the political failure of the reform of the Statute and Spain’s subsequent attempt at humili- ation was so overwhelming it forced the political parties to adopt a position in response to the public’s demands. Likewise, the pro-independence so cial movement has appreciated that it needs to be headed by the parties which are supporting the process. It has therefore adopted a strong position in order to ensure a steady pace, without resorting to any form of populism that would have detracted from the formal legitimacy of any developments. The Catalan nationalist, centre-right coalition, Convergència i Unió (CiU), which governed from 1980 to 2003 and again since 2010, has adopted the sovereignty thesis, most notably from 2012 to now. The traditionally pro-independence party on the left, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), has experienced a period of unprec- edented growth and is vying with CiU for first place. Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (ICV), the former- communist party, remains in favour of Catalonia deciding its own future but has yet to declare whether it supportsindepend-ence.Inthespaceoccupiedbyleft-wingpartieswefindassembly-basedCandidaturad’Unitat Popular (CUP), which is also pro-independence. The Partit Socialista de Catalunya (PSC) has been plunged into an unprecedented crisis due to its lack of clarity, which it tries to disguise with appeals to federalism. As a result it is in danger of be- coming a minority party. Meanwhile, Spanish nationalism which not only opposes Catalan independence but also the Catalans’ right to decide, is divided between the right of the Spanish right- wing Partido Popular (PP) and an ideologically undefined party Ciudadanos (C’s), which is gaining ground on the PP. In total, two thirds of the Parliament of Catalonia has declared itself in favour of a referendum on the ‘right to decide’ (CiU, ERC, ICV and CUP), fifty-five percent are explicitly in favour of Catalonia becoming an independent state and only twenty percent are strictly Spanish unionists. Forecasts suggest that these figures will rise significantly in favour of pro-independence posi- tions in the next election. Whatever happens, it is clear that the independence process is creating strong tensions within virtually all of the political organizations, which are busy trying to catch up with the social demands of a climate of informal political participation of unprecedented dimensions. Voter turnout in 2012 was the highest since 1980 and the Catalan population has a taste for political debate, in stark contrast with the general climate of distrust towards parties that exists throughout Europe. Spain’s failure to understand A relatively surprising phenomenon is Spain’s apparent failure to understand the magnitude of the Catalan secessionist process. It may well be a reaction to events which even caught Catalan political analysts unawares, as mentioned earlier, and for the fact that it fails to follow the pattern established over the previous thirty-five years. Nevertheless, the fact is that Spanish political elites, party leaders, major media organizations, certain business sectors and senior government officials have refused to initiate any form of dialogue to find some kind of middleground. Obsessed by the unconstitutional nature of Catalonia’s separatist aspirations, they refuse to accept any kind of negotiation, even to the extent of criticising the few sectors of Catalan society which are trying to find a third, non-disruptive, alternative. Initially Spain alleged that it is a process triggered by the economic crisis and that once it has passed everything will go back to normal. Then it insisted that the process would eventually run out of steam. Thirdly it warned of an impending breakdown of social cohesion between native Catalans and the descendants of the massive waves of migration of fifty years ago. Finally, Spain tried to make people believe it was all the result of President Artur Mas’ megalomania and the manipulation of the public via publicly-owned media. However, the fact is that the move towards pro-independence can be traced back to around three years before the start of the recession. In fact, signs of improvements in the economy (noticeably more visible in Catalonia than the rest of Spain) may well bolster support for secession. Moreover, not only has support failed to run out of steam, according to opinion polls, the opposite has occurred. In relation to possible f ractures in cohesion, it seems that those who utter such threats have not understood that Catalan society has established a peaceful multicultural model, with very low levels of racism. Instead, organizations which are successors of the waves of immigrations have come out in favour of independence and proudly state their radical Catalan nature. As for President Artur Mas and publicly- owned media, one need only remember that his policies are a reaction to public pressure (as late as autumn 2012 he was still trying to reach a settlement through a new fiscal pact), and that Catalan public television accounts for only between 15 to 20 percent of the audience share, while the rest is in the hands of Spanish channels. The strategy of threats and scaremongering employed by Spanish leaders has proved itself worthless. On the contrary, the Spanish state’s total inability to create a climate of trust and empathy reinforces the belief that there is no possible means of reconciliation. Aside from these threats, often exposing a barely democratic political culture, the Catalan process, indifferent to such tactics, continues to unfold in an impeccably democratic, peaceful, good-naturedly friendly, manner. The outcome Ultimately we will only be able to judge the success or failure of the current analysis with the final outcome of the process. If the independence move- ment were to lose momentum, if fear took hold of Catalan society, if political leadership took a step backwards and, finally, if the desire for self-determination were to fail to achieve
  16. 16. an electoral majority, one would need to thoroughly review the information we have so far taken as decisive. For now, however, this scenario seems unlikely. It appears highly unlikely that the steps taken so far would be undone. It is difficult to imagine who could politically lead a failure of this nature. Nonetheless, if the outcome lives up to the aspirations of this great popular movement and the political dynamics it has generated, we will have to spend many hours studying the idiosyncrasies of such an unexpect- ed and unprecedented process. SALVADOR CARDÚS. (Terrassa, 1954). PhD in Economics at the Universitat Autònoma de Bar- celona (UAB). Visiting researcher at the University of Cambridge, Cornell University (USA) and Queen Mary College of the University of London. Currently he is professor of Sociology at the UAB and the former Dean of the Faculty of Political Sciences and Sociology. He has con- ducted research into the sociology of religion and culture, media, nationalism and identity. His published works include, Plegar de viure (Giving Up on Life) with Joan Estruch, Saber el temps (Understanding the Time), El desconcert de l’educació (The Education Puzzle), Ben educats (Well Educated) and El camí de la independència (The Road To Independence). In the field of journalism he was the editor of the Crònica d’Ensenyament maga- zine (1987-1988) and was deputy editor of the Avui newspaper (1989-1991). He contributes to ARA, La Vanguardia, Diari de Terrassa and Deia newspapers. He is member of the Institut d’Estudis Catalans. First published in Catalan International View.
  17. 17. Farming, country life and work Catalan Wine issue #29 - July 2014 The appearance of large cities and the urbanization of a great part of the territory have meant that the farmingclass have had to transform. Nowadays in Catalonia there is an agriculture that is peripheral to urban areas and which is specialised in a single crop, and where the final elaboration of many products has been transferred to cooperatives. Many farmers, in their research to gain an extra value to their products, have decided to recuperate their ancestor’s way of production. The farming profession cannot be separated from the geography which surrounds it, the climate, nature and the relationship with people, plants and animals. It is the fruit of the experiences and knowledge accumulated through generations with regards to that which nature can produce and what man needs to feed himself. His survival depends on the relationship with his surroundings. Farmers inherit their fields and farm houses from the generations who have preceded them and they know that the land will be profitably used by their grandchildren. These days, in Catalonia, there are only thirty thousand farmers recorded who have the help of paid labourers, as well as some thirty thousand part time farmers. The number of recorded farmers of the first hearth-tax of the fourteenth century was a quarter of a million. However, what has changed substantially is not so much the number of farmers but the population they have to feed, which has increased in a more than considerable way. Catalonia has become a large city and the tarmac has reached all corners. Thus, today, the agricultural land is reserve land which exists in accordance with the needs of the city. Catalan agriculture is in essence one of proximity, because the farmers sell their produce to the inhabitants of the large cities. It is an agriculture which is peripheral to the urban areas. The urbanization of large surfaces has expelled farmers, who make the most of their knowledge of the closest market tastes from many areas that they have to redress. Another consequence of the urbanization of the society is that alimentation has been turned into an abstract event. The consumer does not usually question the origin of a product, or if it is from the nearby countryside or a faraway country, nor who has cultivated it or the techniques employed to do so. In summary, alimentation has been commercialised and transformed into a product of impersonal exchange. As can be seen from times gone by, the make-up of many farm houses was that many people lived in these residences: the owner, the heir, the other ‘cabaler’ brothers [second born], the extended family, farm hands and shepherds. They were centres of production, where wine was elaborated, flower was ground or olive oil was produced. Furthermore, a pig was fattened, and cooked meats and cheeses were made. While in some farm houses wine barrels were fabricated, in others ‘espardenyes’ [a characteristic type of slipper] and sacks for the animals to carry where sewn. The dates of the main festivals of the villages and markets were marked by the cycle of the farmers’ work: generally after the harvest or the grape harvest. Furthermore, many villages have recuperated festivals like the field casseroles, especially in the Ponent [Lleida province] area, or the celebrations of the ‘Verema’ [Grape Harvest] in Vilafranca, Raimat or Espluga de Francolí, amongst others, or those of ‘Segar i el Batre’ [Reap and thresh], like that held in Fuliola, which is the best known. The sheep dog competitions are well known in Castellar de n’Hug, those of horses in Puigcerdà or those of milking cows, or even the ironman which is organised by the ‘Unió de Joves Pagesos’ [Union of Young Farmers] every year. All over Catalonia there are farming museums, where tools used by this profession are exhibited. We must point out the Museum of Rural Life in Espluga de Francolí and that of Wheat and Farming in Cervera. Many cooperatives keep the old oil or wine presses in the form of a museum. The ones in the Wine Museum in Vilafranca or the Olive Oil Museum in Les Borges Blanques, the Flower Mill in Torroella de Montgrí and the Cork Museum in Palafrugell are especially interesting. With the specialization in one crop, the final elaboration of much produce has been passed to the cooperative, which has added a new dimension to the agricultural exploitation. Furthermore, in the search for added value to their produce many farmers have decided to recuperate the ways of farming and the procedures used by their predecessors, by adapting to the new demands of consumers, and especially to the increasingly stricter rules in the ambit of alimentary security. The farmer does not only occupy and manage the land and produce food upon it, but he also has to preserve the environment, maintain the countryside and conserve its biodiversity. In times of crisis and shortage the production of food again becomes important. Society demands the right to be able to eat quality and healthy products. It is a case of securing the alimentary sovereignty of the region in the sense of being able to decide what type of food one wants, taking into account the traditions, the type of crop, the way of producing it and the way of thinking. All in all, the geography, the climate, the culture and the traditions establish the guidelines of alimentation. Most of the present day agriculture in Catalonia is integrated. This type of agriculture, which uses the symbol of the ladybird and reduces to a minimum the use of chemical products, is manly used in greens and fruit production. It is what could be considered a ‘responsible’ agriculture, since it follows the protocols of good Culturcat - Generalitat de Catalunya seven communities, one language eurocatalan newsletter OUR CULTURE OUR HISTORY
  18. 18. agricultural practises, that is, the ‘use and habit of the good farmer’. Agriculture should not be the fabrication of proteins at the minimum possible cost, but the production of healthy foods which are, at the same time, transmitters of the culture of our predecessors. Therefore, it should not only be valued as a model of economical production, but also a social one. In the rural world of the twenty-first century society there coexist social groups, which work in leisure activities, tourism and handicraft industries, and the farmers, who are the minority group. Those who go for strolls, be it on foot or on bicycles, and venture to gather mushrooms, asparagus or snails, have a different vision of the rural space, which has its own history and culture. We have to find a harmony between those who aim to invent a new nature and a world which has centuries of history. The farmers have knowledge which has afforded them the management of their principle area of production, that is, the land, and the accumulated experience, with its successes and failures, throughout generations. It is not a case of viewing farmers from a folkloric point of view. They are men and women who produce food from a land in evolution and which, throughout time, have accumulated knowledge which could be lost and which should not be reduced to the ambit of a museum. We have to encourage agriculture with the use of ‘denomination of origin’ with a recognisable quality, which is differentiated, and which does not want the new alimentary culture to be that which is marked by the large chains of homogenised distribution all over the planet. Therefore, we give value to products that are close to nature and the land, and to a social group, to that of the farmers, who resist the temptation to lose their identity. First published in Culturcat. ISSN: 2014-9093 | Legal deposit: B. 2198-2013

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