Cork harvesting in Coruche
SPECIAL BLOG REPORT -- Greetings, gentle reader, from Coruche, just outside Lisbon, Portugal, where I spent the morning at Fidalgos, a farm situated in an ancient cork oak forest. As a guest of the Portuguese Cork Association, I saw farm workers (“debarkers”) harvest the bark of cork trees with an axe, using a process that hasn’t really changed over the last 2,000 years. (Use of cork for shoes and other products goes back at least as far as the Romans.)
Fidalgos has about 2,000 hectares planted with cork oak, pine and eucalyptus, and is part of some 730,000 hectares of cork forest in Portugal. It’s also a biodiversity “hotspot”; home to about 100 species per hectare, some of which are endangered. I’ve added below a pic of a harvested cork tree. (Credit where it’s due - I have Karen Kirk of Home and Garden magazine to thank for the pic; she generously shared hers when my camera went on the blink. More pics tomorrow, I hope.)
At Fidalgos, I learned that cork is an extremely sustainable material; cork comes from the bark of the trees, which can be harvested every nine years - and the trees have an average lifespan of about 250 years.
We were lucky enough to have videographer Mike Lewis with us, and he’s promised to put together some fabulous footage for me to upload to On the House. So keep watching this space!