Agriculture in the Basque Country is the outcome of the ethnographical research conducted by the Etniker Euskalerria Groups led by Ander Manterola. This volume is the eighth contribution to the Ethnographic Atlas designed and launched by José Miguel de Barandiaran. Previous publications include Food at Home (1990), Children’s Games (1993), Funeral Rites (1995), Rites: From Birth to Marriage (1998), Livestock and Grazing (2000), Popular Medicine (2004) and Home and Family (2011).
The Ethnographic Atlas studies the different aspects of people of the Basque Country from the viewpoint of traditional culture as recorded throughout the 20th and 21st century, and likewise gauges the changes that have occurred. Fieldwork was conducted in the Basque Country, in Western Europe, which occupies an area stretching from the River Adour to the north to the River Ebro to the south. The territory comes under two political authorities in Spain (the Basque and Navarra Autonomous Communities) and part is in the French Department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques. The surface area of the territory totals 20,531 km2 and its population stands at 3,199,042 inhabitants (2016 census).
The fieldwork was conducted in 56 different towns and villages in Álava (14), Bizkaia (13), Gipuzkoa (7), Navarra (16) and that part of the Basque Country in France (6). The regional diversity of the target territory was taken into account when selected the surveyed locations. The ethnographic questionnaire used appears in the Guide for an Ethnographic Survey, published by Barandiaran in 1974 and covers the data gathered in response to Questions 1 to 24 of Section 5 on agriculture. The work was collated and drafted by the Ethnography Department at Labayru Fundazioa. The content is based on the data gathered during fieldwork on agriculture, which goes hand in hand with earlier volumes on livestock farming and shepherding, and on the homestead and family, as the three provide an overall view of the livestock-farming way of life.
This volume has 20 chapters, the first of which provides an overview of agriculture. The second discusses the different agricultural landscapes and the third delves into the different types of soils to be found there to grow the corps. The book then goes on to cover the growing periods, the influence attributed to the moon, crop distribution on the different types of holdings, crop rotation, the agricultural calendar, seeds, rotating the land and its preparation, with a section on organic compost and chemical fertilizers. One chapter considers crop diversity, sowing or planting the di fferent plant species, differentiating between those to be used as human food, animal fed and industrial crops. The care applied to ensure that the crops all grow successfully is analysed as well. A subsequent chapter addresses the harvesting of the crops and the traditional storage methods.
There is a chapter on grass and its use. The changes that occurred due to the introduction of the new machinery are also recorded. Fruit trees, their planting and care, grafting, pruning, harvesting and the use of the fruit are also studied. A separate chapter is dedicated to olives and vines given their importance in the southern area of the Basque Country. Both chapters study their cultivation and the production of oil and wine on the Mediterranean-facing side of txakoli white wine and cider on the Atlantic-facing side. Flax and hemp as crops linked to the self-sufficiency of the farmsteads in the past are analysed in their own chapter.
The following set of chapters begins with a review of the different implements and tools needed to farm and the workforce. It considers the importance of animal power in the past, with a chapter on animal transport. The last section addresses the mechanisation of agriculture.
A further chapter describes the use of production for the holdings’ own needs and agricultural trade. There is also a chapter on the form of ownership of the land. The volume ends with the beliefs and rites linked to farming in the past.
As is the case of the previous volume, this book has an introduction on the project and methodology used, along with sections on the human and natural environment, geographical data on the places surveyed, the bibliography, analytical and thematic indexes, list of illustrations, and the drawings and photographic credits.