ΨΗΦΙΑΚΟ ΜΟΥΣΕΙΟ ΒΛΑΧΟΚΕΡΑΣΙΑΣ

dendra.jpgFruit trees, the cultivation of which entails a series of steps (e.g., grafting, plowing, trimming, spraying, irrigating, harvesting, etc.) constituted an important part of agricultural production in the region. The fruit of these trees supplemented the family’s diet, either as fresh fruit or as preserved sweets for the family and guests. In addition, they constituted sources of income for many families. Among the fruit trees, which thrive in the vicinity of Vlahokerasia (at an altitude of 850-1000 m.) are cherry (three varieties), chestnut, walnut, apple, pear, mulberry and fig trees, as well as grapevines in the yards of the houses[1].

For some of the above fruit trees (e.g. apple, pear, mulberry and fig) production has ceased, slackened or undergone changes[2] for various reasons. In the present unit, we concentrate on the cherry, chestnut and walnut trees, which, even though production is substantially reduced in relation to the past, continue to constitute an important source of food and income for the remaining residents.

The cherry tree (early and late varieties), aside from the value of its fruit as a family food supplement and as a product for commercial exploitation, has also had symbolic value for Vlahokerasiotes. Due to its abundance in the area, kerasia (=cherry tree) has become an integral part of the village’s name (Vlahokerasia). For various interpretations regarding the name of our village, the visitors to the digital museum (VDM) are urged to read Part II, “Demographic and Administrative Changes”, of the monograph Vlahokerasia: History, Demography and Folklore (in Greek) by Angelos Bistolas et al in the menu category, “History – Traditions”.

The reduction of fruit-tree cultivation is not only due to the internal and external migration or the abandonment of the region by young people – a process which is mitigated by the inflows of foreign farm workers – but also the result of some diseases, which have struck the fruit trees. In accordance with Evangelos Mitropoulos (“Paparountas”), during the last 10 years, at least 40% of the chestnut trees have died, because of an incurable disease/fungus (“Entothia Parasitica”), which has assumed epidemic proportions and has affected chestnut trees in other areas of Greece as well as in other countries. Vaccination has been tried, without results. We wonder if it is a disease of “material civilization” and is connected to climatic changes. In any case, if a cure is found for the disease, there will be a bright future for chestnut production, as the relevant hyperlink reminds us (See relevant article by Panos Sagris).

Even though the cherry and apple trees thrived and continue to thrive in the region of Vlahokerasia, large scale production was a characteristic of the fertile plains of Tegea. As the plantation owners there faced shortages of work hands, they recruited them from the surrounding villages, including Vlahokerasia, especially during the harvest period. Mainly, local women – the Vlahokerasiotisses and the Kerasiotisses from the neighboring village – gladly responded to this demand, in order to supplement the family’s income.

Aside from cultivated trees, a number of native plants, such as oregano and blackberries, are also thriving in the vicinity of the village. However, only oregano is harvested for the needs of families and relatives, but not for commercial exploitation. In other regions of the country, oregano is cultivated systematically as an aromatic plant and for commercial purposes (See hyperlinks to a narrative by Constantinos Sotos to Aggeliki Katsafanas for the value of oregano and a video clip by Angelike Contis). The blackberries are not exploited at all, neither for private nor commercial exploitation, though some plant specialists attribute therapeutic qualities to them. In both cases, the non-cultivation of vineyards (See unit “Our Vineyards”) has apparently contributed to their reduction.

The Vlahokerasia Digital Museum does not have sufficient materials from all the phases of cultivation and exploitation (e.g. grafting, trimming[3], spraying etc.). Also, we do not have any materials from the gathering of oregano in the slopes surrounding Vlahokerasia, which in the past hosted our vineyards and where now our compatriots grow walnut and chestnut trees. The Committee welcomes relevant materials, which will enrich our collection.

Nikos P. Petropoulos
VDM Committee Coordinator

Click here or on the image above to browse the glipping book.


[1] The olive tree, which does not thrive at this altitude, is the subject of another thematic category, “Our Winter Settlements”.

[2] In the past, local residents exploited the existence of the silkworm, which fed upon the mulberry leaves. The mulberry leaves were also used for feeding the domesticated goats (maltezes). In modern days, the mulberry trees provide us with a cool shade, especially during the hot, sunny, summer days.

[3] See relevant hyperlink/article of Aggeliki Katsafanas about our compatriot “horticulturalist”, Dimitris Panousopoulos,  who, among other things, advises on trimming of fruit trees. 

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