After meeting on 12th June 2013, the participants of the meeting were conducted to the little village of Tuixent, in the “comarca” of the Alt Urgell in the province of Lleida, Catalonia, Spain. It is situated on the southern side of the Pyrenean range of Serra del Cadí, at 1,206 m of altitude. Nowadays, the valley of La Vansa-Tuixent have less than 300 inhabitants, but in 19th century raised until 3000 people.
Tuixent was known for its natural herbs and remedies and for the extraordinary women who would head off (often on foot) to sell them, the so-called Trementinaires (after trementina, or turpentine, one of their more popular items). From the late 19th century, these wandering saleswomen would leave for as long as four months and as far as Barcelona, leaving their menfolk behind to tend fields and animals, and only returned home when they had sold all their wares. The women generally travelled in pairs. The last Trementinaire, Sofia d’Ossera, undertook her final trip in 1982.
We could learn more about theses stories in the guided visit to the Trementinaires Museum (“Museu de les Trementinaires”) and could know some of the medicinal plants of the valley in the Botanic garden of the Trementinaires (“Jardí Botànic de les Trementinaires”) and the medicinal plant trail nearby the village (“Itinerari botànic Vall de la Mola”).
Along the path, you can find over 100 different species of plants, although only around 60, the best known and used by the Trementinaires, are marked. Each panel has the name of the plant in several languages and brief description of their medicinal properties.
Evarist March, from the enterprise Naturalwalks, guided the group to discover the local flora with medicinal and edible uses like us the young leaves of Silene inflata.
During the second day, on 13th June 2013, we visited different entreprises dealing with MAPs: L’Armengol SCP in Sagàs in the comarca of Berguedà, and Sambucus S.L. in Sant Pere de Torelló and L’Avenc de Tavertet in the comarca of Osona, all in Barcelona province.
L’Armengol SCP is a familiar enterprise cultivating aromatic and medicinal plants and processing them in a continuous belt dryer for obtaining dry botanicals for the bulk market. The main species produced are lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and sage (Salvia officinalis).
During the visit, we could see different crop machinery for planting and harvesting, the fields (some of them irrigated) and the drying and processing facilities.
Eva Moré from Forest Sciences Centre of Catalonia, also showed the agroforestry essay they have in collaboration with Armengol SCP, testing the influence on yield of a combined cultivation of trees (Platanicus hispanica for bioenergy purposes and Juglans x hybrida for high quality wood) with aromatic plants (Salvia officinalis).
Afterwards, the participants could visit the cooperative Sambucus, a social and entrepreneurial initiative to give employment opportunities to people with difficulties to access to work market.
They are doing activities all around the field, the garden and the cooking: cultivating organically vegetables and aromatic and medicinal plants, selling fresh products to local markets, elaborating herbal teas and condiments and even cooking their products in the restaurant they are managing in the Municipality Market of Manlleu.
People could new crops with persil (Petroselinum sativum) and pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium) planted with a mulching system of special dark paper, and fields with different species like us lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), thyme (Thymus vulgaris) and others.
Sambucus has a solar dryer designed by the entrepise Ecocentre Mas Lluerna (email@example.com) with controlled system for temperature.
After having lunch in Sambucus restaurant, the group went to the rural hotel “L’Avenc de Tavertet” located in the beautiful area of the Tavertet cliffs.
L’Avenc de Tavertet is a business initiative concerned with the protection of and respect for the environment, aimed at being a working example of sustainable tourism. This hosting place is also engaged to the initiative flavours gardens “Parcs de les Olors” and has nearly finished a magnificent garden with medicinal, aromatic and edible plants from the surrounding area.
People could discover it guided by the sage herbalist Santi Jàvega, who is in charge of this garden and have more than 25 years of experience on plants uses, and they could also walk and enjoy the fantastic landscape of Les Guilleries.