Living in Spain and bringing up a Spanglish family during the current 'crisis' and trying various ways to make some 'dinero'. Enjoying life in the sun, crafting and blogging as much as possible.

29 Sep 2011

Esparto grass - a sustainable tradition

Esparto grass grows on the mountain slopes around Andalucia. It was once the main source of income for many families. The men used to harvest the grass and the women would weave it however nowadays it only seems to be local men that I ever see working with it (unless their wives are at home weaving it too!). My father in law was very skilled in the art of esparto grass weaving and many years ago, when they didnt have a lot of money, he even made shoes for the family out of the grass.

(this photo was taken outside my cave, quite a few years before I moved here. His baskets on the donkey are made from esparto grass)

Nowadays you can still find baskets, rope, mats, bottle holders and novelty shoes on our local markets and every family has something made from esparto grass that they use on a regular basis. Just walking round the village this month I have noticed that all the older generation are putting large flat baskets out in the sunshine - on closer inspection they all contain tomatoes that will dry out in the sun and will be bottled to last throughout the winter.
There is a fear that this sustainable tradition will eventually die out as it competes against more cost effective methods and newer, more exciting ways to earn money. In my village the harvesting is still a big part of income for many locals and we even have facilities for treating the grass before it is used in the weaving. I hate to think this tradition will die out and hope that the older generations will pass on their knowledge to the younger generations.
In Igualeja (in the Province of Malaga) a woman’s cooperative has been formed to keep this tradition alive. After studying basket weaving for a year, a group of women launched the cooperative, backed by the Town Hall, and now have a museum where they sell the pieces they make.


There is a good website that sell a range of esparto grass products:
Click here

No comments:

Post a Comment