ReSEED researcher Inês Gomes talks about the seeds mentioned in historical sources from Portugal and Spain.

To investigate in different sources, be they about agriculture, cooking or medicine. To read in Portuguese, Spanish, Galician, Valencian and other languages. To translate the old words to the new ones. This is our routine to understand what was cultivated at a certain time, in a certain place. What do the sources indicate about seed varieties? What is in common or particular in the different regions of the Iberian Peninsula?

We have so far identified over 50 vegetables and legumes in historical sources since the 16th century. Chickpeas, onions, turnips and 13 other products were mentioned in all books we have been analysing. This is an example of the preliminary research results presented by the ReSEED team at the VIII Congress of Rural Studies and the VIII RePort Rural Meeting, which take place from 5 to 7 December 2019, at the Agrarian School of Ponte de Lima, North of Portugal.

“Cooking books from Portugal and Spain seem to have more similar products when compared with agriculture and medicine books. The latter ones seem to be more related to the author’s country than with their typology”, said ReSEED researcher Inês Gomes. She highlighted this is a topic that needs to be further explored in the next months.

ReSEED researcher Francesco D´Amaro explains the action of local associations concerning rice production in Valencia, Spain.

Local institutions

The research also focuses on the role of the local institutions in the relation between seeds, environment and human action. One example was given by ReSEED researcher Francesco D´Amaro concerning the 18th and 19th century in Valencia, Spain. The Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País and local irrigation associations tried to limit the spread of rice production, so they were agents that stimulated indirectly the development of other crops. One of the current research challenges is to clarify if these institutions were radically contrary to rice production or were concerned about the specific varieties of rice that consumed less water.

Principal Investigator Dulce Freire also led a talk about the typology of sources that form the research background, commenting on two key aspects: how the transdisciplinary nature of the project is reflected on the documents analysed and the pursuit of detailed local information to fill gaps of current research.