The fruit that came to stay in Alta Axarquía
If a few decades ago, the chikpea was the main product in Alfarnate, today this legume has been replaced by the cherry, an acide frut that has found its ideal place for a quality production in the climate and geographical situation of this village —over 900 metres above sea level. Nowadays, there are more than twenty varieties of cherries grown in the lands of Alfarnate. Among them, the most common one is the variety ‘quince’ (‘fifteen’, since a lot of cherry types are identified with numbers), although there are also some other important varieties, such as ‘celeste’, famous for its sweeter taste; ‘burlat’, one that has an early harvest; or ‘corazón de cabrito’, which is one of the latest being harvested. To these we should add other varieties like ‘starking’, ‘bing’ or ‘lapin’. Around 4 million cherry trees make it possible that every year between 70.000 and 80.000 kilos of cherries are produced in Alfarnate. The majority of it is consumed directly as a fruit, although it is also used to make liqueur or an original gazpacho.
A big part of the harvest of the cherries from Alfarnate are distributed within the province of Málaga. Some produces take the product directly to some villages or towns like Málaga, Vélez-Málaga or villages in Costa del Sol, while others keep them in Alfarnate to sell them directly from there. In fact, thousands of persons travel every year to the Holiday of the Cherry in order to buy them directly from the farmers. It is a gastronomical event used not only to sell but also to give importance to the value of this healthy acid fruit. In the last years, some lands have started to grow another red fruit, the raspberry, like the local company Licores de la Abuela, who elaborates an alcoholic drink with it. A liqueur with cherries or resoli —made mainly with coffee— is also crafted in the village.
Cherries have found in the situation of this village in Alta Axarquía (900 metres above sea level) the perfect habitat. In fact, the production of this acid fruit has considerably increased to the point that Alfarnat has become a referent in its production. In fact, nowadays, the label of ‘valle del Jerte from Málaga’ is used to talk about the importance of this crop. Besides Alfarnate, there are also some other villages like Genalguacil, where there have been some cherry trees for decades.
Cherries were first grown in the village of Alfarnate in the beginning of the 1990s. Specifically, the inhabitants point out 1992 as the year when the first lands of cherry trees were cultivated. However, a lot of residents already knew this tree would adapt perfectly to the climate conditions of the village because a lot of them had planted some of the varieties of the cherry tree in their backyards a decade before.
Cherries are specially known for their detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, among their benefit to our health, it stands out as a fruit that helps eliminate uric acid levels in bllood, as well as for its laxative and diuretic properties. It also prevents illnesses such has anaemia, they help avoid the demineralisation of bones thanks to some of its components, such has iron, calcium and vitamin C. Its richness in bioflavonoids is very useful to fight cell degeneration.
Cherries are not only an important source of income fot the village of Alfarnate but also it offers outstanding colours during its blossoming, that takes place between the last days of winter and the first of spring. With this trees, the surroundings of this village in Alta Axarquía is significantly transformed with the pink colour of the cherry tree flowers. In countries like Japan, they have a strong devotion to the blossoming of the tree. In this eastern country, the costum of ‘hanami’, consisting of eating under these trees while admiring the flowers with their family or friends, is very important.