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Old grains for an holistic landscaping

The old wheat varieties of the Siguas Valley form a living landscape that thrive in harmony with the ancient history and diverse archaeological manifestations of this environment in southern Peru. Despite the loss of the whole wheat bread culture in this area, a tradition that was an important part of the local food system since the 17th century, these grains (of Mediterranean origin) rich in history are still available.

The ancient fig trees of the Siguas Valley accompany this grain tradition. Indeed, fresh figs have been eaten here with toasted wheat flour since ancient times. The mestizo bread, which consists of wholemeal flour of different types of wheat (the Mentana one is very popular) and fennel seeds, was baked weekly in stone ovens that could be seen in every farm before the industrialisation of agriculture (early 1980s) in the valley. This wholemeal bread accompanied the farmers during the strenuous tasks that would have to be undertaken in the fields. Meanwhile, people also consumed mountain cheese and dried figs to increase their inner strength and mental concentration.

The origin of these wheat varieties requires further research. Since some fig trees of the Siguas Valley are over 400 years old (whose variety, the Albacor, was introduced into Hispania during the Islamisation of the Iberian Peninsula), I am sure that these wheat varieties were also introduced during the colonial period (like the candeal variety). Additional research is needed to determine their origin. At the beginning of the 20th century were introduced Italian varieties like Mentana and Senatore Capelli.

I grow these wheat varieties according to the biodynamic methodology. In this way, a balance between insects, soil fertility and plant life can be employed in this arid area. All these aspects can be perceived in the aroma of a wholemeal bread and also give me the opportunity to implement my experiences in the German-speaking region in this ancient landscape in the form of a wholemeal pretzel (solar baked) or a Hutzelbrot.

Besides wheat, I also (recently) grow rye. Part of the harvest is germinated and dehydrated with a solar dehydrator to make Ezequiel bread, raw food quality panforte or mashka. With the help of my sister (who is a trained baker), these grains can be refined with the Special Backferment of Hugo Erbe and transform these cultural hybridizations of the Siguas Valley into nutritious whole wheat bread.

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Red soil in Siguas.

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Young wheat.

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Ears before harvest. The red mountain is covered by different petroglyphs.

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Wheat almost ready for harvesting.

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Insect hotel for bumblebees.

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Old wheat varieties from Siguas (Mentana, Senatore Capelli, Candeal).

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Wheat varieties and rye.

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Grains after hand made threshing.

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Figs and wheat: Both of them took part of the creation of agriculture.

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Senatore Capelli wheat variety.

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Wheat as an expression of biodiversity.

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Sprouted rye in the solar dryer.

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Honey bees tasting the Ficatum Bread (20% sprouted wheat, 20% tarwi powder, 60% fig paste).

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Raw dark bread (sprouted rye and dried fig paste).

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"The Buddenbrocks".

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Rye under the protection of an ancient fig tree.

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Whole wheat bread, fig bread and mountain cheese as an expression of biodiversity and sustainable food systems.

Complementary information

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