In seemingly inhospitable territory how is the land burned by the volcano in Lanzarote, life sought to gain a foothold and took root through ash-covered fields that treasure the dew of the night and make it a prized source for agriculture on an island with a perennial lack of water.
The volcanic eruptions that occurred between 1730 and 1736, from which arose, among other elements of volcanism, the Montañas del Fuego or Timanfaya, and in 1824 the craters of Tao and Tinguatón and the new Volcán del Fuego or Chinero, changed more than a quarter of the ancient morphology of Lanzarote (more than 174 square kilometers) and forced its inhabitants to invent a new way to earn a living in the fields of rofe, picón or lapilli, one of the volcanic materials that the new La Palma volcano has been spitting out fiercely for a fortnight when it began to roar on 19 September.
The Protected Landscape of La Geria, outside the limits of Timanfaya National Park, It is the most representative sample of agriculture adapted to the environment by the peasant and that houses a unique way of growing vines in the world from which wines of recognized prestige come out: in cone-shaped picón holes and protected by stone walls from the trade winds.
La Geria is the largest field of pyroclasts, both in extent and depth, in the Canary Islands
La Geria, framed between the mountains of Guardilama, Gaida and Guardilama to the south and the peaks of El Chupadero and Diama to the north is, Without a doubt, the most famous garden in Lanzarote, sculpted by man manually and with the help of the camel in full fight and at the same time in tune with the volcano.
La Geria, according to the Lanzarote and Chinijo Archipelago Geopark is the largest field of pyroclasts, both in extent and depth, that exists in Canary Islands and the name of that valley is due to an ancient village that was razed by the volcano in that same place.
The process that changed agriculture
The crops of legumes and cereals disappeared from the fertile lands of the Island when they were buried by volcanic processes, but the farmer observed how plants that were not completely buried grew stronger than the others.
His ingenuity led him to experiment with a new form of agriculture. He excavated until he found the topsoil, located up to three meters deep, and put seeds on which he spread the volcanic sand whose porous characteristics allow them to keep moisture and give the ground to drink due to its great filtration capacity, thus preventing the rainwater and night dew evaporate, while it acts as a thermoregulator maintaining the temperature.
The porosity of the volcanic sand allows it to keep moisture and give water to the soil in the arid land of the hutch.
The crops were protected from the wind with semicircular stone walls on the northern part and left holes in the structure to allow the plants to aerate. This is how the agricultural revolution began with this new cultivation technique in the calcined earth of Lanzarote and how it changed the way in which Lanzarote’s people related to the environment.
However, the vine is not the only plantation that coexists with the lava in the areas through which the eruptive activity passed. In small areas of the southern and eastern limits of the National Park there are fruit trees such as fig trees and moral fruits, the result of human action, plants that appear between the badlands and the cracks in the volcanic surface.
The successful farming system in La Geria spread to other parts of the island, where the farmer artificially recreated in the form of sanded plots displaying a layer of picón on the vegetal earth that had not been devoured by the volcano and from which it obtains legumes, tubers and vegetables, among other fruits.
That way Lanzarote proved that lava is not a barrier to life.