© Andrea González Garrigas
The orange, a citric rich in vitamin C, has been a symbol of the prosperity of the region of Valencia for the last two centuries. This fruit became Valencia’s hallmark— it enriched anyone who grew it and was an inspiration for many artists. Large orange groves filled the Eastern coast of Spain during these two centuries.
Adrià Besó, PhD in the History of Art , reviews the history of the orange in Valencia in an exhibition called Horts de Tarongers. Visions culturals d’un paisatge (Orange groves. Cultural views of a landscape) at the Botanic Gardens of the University of Valencia. We talked about the origins of orange tree growing in the region of Valencia, its importance in economy and the arts and the future prospects of this fruit in our fields.
Is the orange still Valencia’s hallmark?
The orange fruit is very rich in vitamins A and C, calcium and fibre, low in cholesterol and, besides, does not need much care. It is easy to grow and very profitable. Was this the key to its success in the past?
A common picture people have of Valencia is that of the bourgeois landowners living alongside peasants. Was their relationship a friendly and collaborative one or, on the contrary, a relationship characterised by class difference?
And why were these orange groves such an inspiration for artists like Joaquín Sorolla or Vicente Blasco Ibáñez?
What artist do you think has contributed the most to the idealisation of the orange grove landscape?
«Some are trying to substitute the orange as Valencia’s hallmark for more modern things, completely detached from the traditional Valencian identity»
«We have to take into account the work done by our ancestors, especially the working hours and the effort made to create the groves that nowadays are disappearing due to low profits»
In this review there is an ever-present key figure— the peasant. What does our generation owe to these people?
So, in your opinion, the groves’ current condition is not an ideal one.
It is not difficult to find people in Valencia who have inherited groves from their parents or grandparents. They usually abandon them because it is not profitable to take care of them. Should we think up new measures to obtain a profit from these groves so that they are not abandoned?
Do you think one day these groves will have completely disappeared and will only be an old memory?
Andrea González Garrigas. Student of Journalism at the University of Valencia.
«Many authors talk about the end of the orange as an economic cycle. It is not only a one-off crisis, like the WWI one or the post Civil War one— it is a structural crisis»
© Mètode 2013