Introduction to the history of truffle farming in Teruel
ATRUTER, acronym for Asociación de Recolectores y Cultivadores de Trufa de la Provincia de Teruel (Association of Truffle Harvesting and Farming in the province of Teruel) was founded at the end of 1997.
If we want to find the first movements that promoted the creation of this Association, we should first relate to the beginning of the activity in question: truffle farming.
The French harvesters were the first in Spain to exploit the wild truffle, in Cataluña to be precise, and this exploitation spread to the Southern and Western areas of our peninsula. This process concealed a certain “cheeky” background as the first truffle seekers performed their activity in secret.
Local people from Teruel province got to know the truffle, Tuber Melanosporum Vitt, for the first time at the beginning of 1960, though it had been harvested “stealthily” by seekers from other Spanish regions. In the course of time, once we realized the enormous source of wealth hidden in our rocky holm oak woods, reserves were created in every township to harvest truffles and sell to middlemen afterwards.
The favorable vegetation for truffle growing was formed principally due to human activities. The use of holm-oak firewood, the extensive grazing and other activities contributed positively to the creation of this landscape.
Unfortunately, all these activities that contributed to the unstable balance were abandoned during the industrial development time. During those years, the work in rural areas was abandoned and the vegetation increased, gradually becoming more impenetrable by the sun light and men. This fact, together with the exorbitant harvesting in natural truffle growing areas, resulted in an enormous decrease of production. This explains why truffle harvesters and farmers that did not migrate at that time have been in charge of planting micorrhized holm oaks, which is the essence of truffle farming, to the present day; preserving and improving the conditions of the mountains were truffle grow.
The Association of Truffle of Teruel
The origins, or, so to speak, the first hints of what this Association is today, can be found at the beginning of the 90s. At that time, several truffle farmers of the area considered the need to group together with the purpose of influencing and collaborating in the management of activities and subsidies proposed by the different administrations for the development of this sector, as well as to ensure that the interests of truffle harvesters and farmers of this area are protected against any action.
In spite of the existing needs at that time, the Association was not legally constituted until 1997. That year, some truffle farmers agreed in General Assembly the constitution of The Association of Truffle Harvesting and Farming in the province of Teruel, approving afterwards the Statutes that will regulate this Association and its Management Committee.