Local fruit and vegetable varieties are crops and plants that have been cultivated for centuries in one geographical location, with the application of traditional farming practices and without the use of commercial seeds and seedlings. There are also so-called autochthonous varieties, but because it is quite complicated to precisely determine their origin, they are often called local varieties.
These varieties have emerged with primitive genetic change (for example, grafting) and with time, under the impact of local climate.
The majority of the produce grown throughout the country and in the Bregalnica region have their historic origin somewhere in North and South America or Asia, even Africa. Examples of these are tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, corn, pumpkins – all these plants arrived in Europe some 500-600 years ago. However, intensive cultivation, propagation and the influence of climate allowed the development of regional or local sorts and varieties of plants and cultures.
Today, when we are facing climate change and the need for sustainable development and preservation of natural resources, these sorts and varieties gain in importance. These are the main reasons why:
- Saving water
With time, local sorts and varieties have developed a genetic capability to survive with small quantities of water. The climate in our country is moderately continental, with strong influences of the Mediterranean, so summers are frequently hot and dry.
- Traditional farming
The majority of the local varieties are farmed in a traditional manner. This method preserves local traditions and knowledge, uses natural resources reasonably and develops the local community.
- Application of sustainable practices in agriculture
With the application of sustainable practices the local population ensures that natural ecosystems and their biodiversity are preserved, managed and used sustainably with the use of good quality seed material, controlled use of fertilizers and chemicals.
- Genetic biodiversity is preserved
In a period when we are learning more and more about the significance of biodiversity, the preservation of agricultural biodiversity should not be forgotten. All varieties, sorts and variations are important. By growing these plants and crops we keep alive these genetic lines.
- Promotion of healthy lifestyle and healthy diets
It has been long known that the use of seasonal fruit and vegetables is the best diet. Healthy lifestyle as a global trend is one of the best opportunities for promotion of local varieties as the best diet option.