Focusing on the Mediterranean, this session argues that traditional horticultural practices can provide insights into different ethics, techniques, and methods as they are well adapted to the environment. The focus of the issue is on the history of the seven main tree varieties that were widespread the nineteenth century Mediterranean, with particular attention to the ingenious methods that have been developed for their growth and irrigation, as well as on food-historical implications.
From an environmental perspective, as the Mediterranean climate abides low rainfall, horticultural practices have always been challenging. In this sense, the uniqueness of the landscape and agronomic processes come not only from the biophysical conditions conveyed by its geography, but also from its history. Through the lenses of the history of science and technology, this session will discuss the methods of growth and impact in food systems of the seven main trees of the Mediterranean landscape – olive, fig, carob, cork oak, almond, orange, and vine. Olive is usually used to define the geographical area of the Mediterranean as it does not grow above a certain latitude. In some regions, fig trees were considered by the inhabitants as their bread. Almond trees covered the landscape in pink during the spring, and the fruits were used for confectionery and the fig industry in Iberia, Italy and Greece. Citrus were grown in Iberia and Italy at least since Islamic influence and they were well spread while they were still an exotic in Central and Northern European. Therefore, all these trees featured the Mediterranean. From these historical cases, it is argued that the lessons of history could act as a springboard to propose more sustainable solutions for the future, with minimal levels of non-renewable resources.