Agriculture

Called arable and pastoral farming in the past, it is among the oldest forms to earn livelihood. It is based on artificial and intentional activity aimed at plant growing and cattle breeding, and other activities with the purpose to get food – eatable parts of plants, meat, milk, eggs and other products usable in the life of a human and society.

The basic knowledge in this field – domestication and breeding of animals and growing of basic plants – reaches back to prehistoric times. It flourished for the first time in ancient civilizations in Africa, Middle East, India, China and Pre-Columbian civilizations in America. The summary of knowledge on arable and pastoral farming survived in a lot of works, among which especially the works by antique – Greek and Roman – authors were important for the subsequent European development. Its use, however, was conditioned upon the literacy skills and suitable farming conditions which were available mostly for large monastery homesteads and manors. The latter ones became a mediator of old-and-new procedures and ideas

The ownership of land was a significant societal factor until the first half of the 20th century, and it divided the rural residents into several strata. The highest one – farmers, settled land owners – was subdivided according to the area of land into láník (» owner of a whole lan, i.e. an area about 18 hectars), půlláník (» owner of a half lan), čtvrtláník (» owner of a quarter lan) and podsedek (» smallholder).   In addition to them, other much smaller estates existed in the countryside – cottagers and gardeners, who owned just fractional areas of land.  The hofer (» owners of an own house, but no field) and the podruh (» farmhands, residents in a farm) were at the lower end of social scale. The free farm servants – valets and maids – were an independent category. This stable system was quite disrupted in the second half of the 19th century, namely due to the increase in opportunities of working in cities, industrial enterprises, and services, and because people left for paid labour in agriculture as wage earners. The symbiosis of small farming and work in industry or artisanship gave rise to a temporary form of kovorolník (» part-time subsistence farmers). The agricultural collectivization liquidated the social structure and the hitherto way of work. It forced the foundation of agricultural cooperatives and the cooperative forms of work.   The social changes, however, reflected the worldwide tendency to reduce the quantity of agricultural workers, so the previous situation was not largely rehabilitated even after the year 1989.  The independent farmers, besides agricultural cooperatives, joint-stock companies and other larger agricultural enterprises, are more or less an exception.  However, it is necessary to mention that many temporary forms, which continue the procedures and forms of pre-collectivization agriculture, have survived to date, e.g. hobby gardening, hobby farming in private plots allotted to agriculture cooperative´s members, and wine-growing.

In order to ensure success in plant growing and animal husbandry, a large ensemble of knowledge, technological procedures, legal actions, tools, operational buildings, machinery etc. war created. This system is now termed as traditional farming.  It was quite open to innovations, which were not employed evenly, as they depended on the availability of novelties, geographical conditions, and local traditions. The term must be understood mainly as an opposite to the term modern agriculture, which has been applied since the late 19th century. Modern agricultural has brought land cultivation and well as new forms of labour, machines, crops and breeding animals.

Commonly said, the Czech lands are dominated by lowland farming system focused on extensive cultivation of grain, which is, in suitable conditions, extended by artificially introduced wine-growing. The breeding of cattle, horses, pigs, ship, goats and poultry, as well as fruit farming and vegetable growing are aimed at own consumption. This situation also reflects a strong position of agricultural work in the cities. The labour with land and soil evolved in typical three-field rotation system (winter crop – spring crop – fallow) and in common pastoral farming. Dominating was handwork carried out at farmsteads or in client families of small farmers. A small plough with metalwork, drawn by one or two pairs of horses or ox, was the most expensive tool. The families also usually owned a wagon with several modification of its loading platform. Most tools were made of wood by the farmer himself, or by a more skilful neighbour.

In the period of medieval colonization, this system was transferred to less suitable areas, highlands and hilly areas, being adapted to the new settings, and it became the main source of livelihood for local inhabitants. Cattle breeding always was an additional form of farming, which related to breeding of domestic stocks of low quality. The pastoral breeding of ship and goats, which was introduced in the large area of eastern Moravia, was a significant innovation brought during the 16th and 17th centuries from eastern countries.

It was only more developed market conditions and sale of products in several regions that made it possible in certain regions in the 18th century to specialize in and focus on selected agricultural disciplines. It was this period that saw the division of arable and pastoral farming into particular branches with their frame specialization.

Arable farming – continued being a backbone to agricultural production, whose goal was to deliver foods to homestead´s inhabitants – cereals, root crops, legumes, technical plants (flax, hemp plants), and vegetable. In regions with fruitful lands – the area of Haná, Polabí, etc., the large grain production was focused on the market even at that time (distilleries, mills). Afterwards, the production was extended by beet planting. In contrast, higher-situated regions – e.g. the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands – focussed on potatoes intended for agricultural industry. In hilly regions, flax growing spread, whereas hemp remained a home-grown plant.

Vegetable growing – developed into an independent branch in places with possibilities of selling the products – around big cities, areas with unsuitable conditions for own growing etc. The raised vegetable was mostly distributed raw, sold at daily and weekly fairs. Traditional vegetable included carrot, parsley, celery root, onion, garlic, and cabbage, extend by foreign or fashionable species – e.g. asparagus – much later.

Viticulture – is among the oldest specialized branches in agriculture. It was a significant supplement to grain farming, in some places vineyard even supressed the traditional grain field, as their occupied old cultivated lands. At a time of its flourishing, wine-growing and winemaking were able to secure quite good livelihoods on a very small cultivated area. The roots of viticulture reach back to the Middle Ages – south-eastern Moravia, the region of Polabí, and Prague. The branch adhered to its own legal system – the right to plant vineyards and make wine called horenské právo, which define strict standards for labour in vineyards, and making and distribution of wine. Even after this legal system was cancelled in the 18th century, its provisions continued being respected, somewhere until the mid-20th century. The production mostly supplied the market with wine in barrels for wine taverns.

Hop growing – began as a supplementary production focused on supplying local breweries, but in the second half of the 19th century it evolved into a specialized activity for which mainly Central Bohemia– Žatec, Louny … became famous. Only in the 20th century, the hop growing area extended to the region of Haná. The mass production focused on growing of high-quality hop, which was mostly intended for export, requested not only improved operating procedures, but also modern breeding methods.

Fruit growing – is one of the youngest branches, which were permanently supported from the late 19th century. The targeted efforts focussed on cultivation of home production first, an only afterwards large orchards were founded as parts of specialized enterprises. Fruit growing spread mainly in mild climate conditions of lowlands and foothills, focussing first on domestic species – apples, piers, and plums –, and only later on foreign fruits – apricots, peaches, greengages, mulberries, etc.). The fruits were dried or cooked for home use, they were exported only seldom. Only in modern times, raw fruits have been supplied to the market or used to make alcohol – slivovice » plum brandy.

Husbandry – primarily focused on homestead needs in drawing forces – horse breeding, milk supplies – cattle, sheep and goat breeding, meat supplies – pig, sheep and poultry breeding, and eggs – poultry. To basic animals rabbits and pigeons bred for meat came later. We also have to mention the use of pelt – sheep, goats, cattle, horse – and sheep fleece and feathers, which were a matter of barter between villages and cities. The livestock is mostly described as domestic, without significant advantages. Horses and cattle were upgraded only locally, whereby several regions became famous for their bred cattle. Exceptional was sheep breeding with noticeable organizational, technological and breeding procedures. The above-mentioned range of breeders´ production applied until the 19th century, when there were efforts to increase the quality of domestic livestock by new breeding – a village bull, and to convert mountainous regions focused on grain farming into cattle chambers – the Rožnov area. Commonly said, until the time of collectivization there was no more noticeable progress in direction of mass production and specialization.

Beekeeping – again one of very old branches whose oldest forms– brtnictví i.e. taking of wild bee honey from tree trunk – are at the edge between the predatory and the targeted farming. Already in the Middle Ages, bees were kept in beehives – skeps, baskets placed open-end-down and situated in fenced areas amidst forests, gardens and meadows. Beekeepers were organized in brotherhoods with firmly given order, leaders and often written documents. The work focussed mainly on honey and wax production in quite an extensive way. A change came with the invention of a stackable beehive with separated boxes for the queen to lay eggs, and for brood and honey. This modern type of beehive was a result of the long-term effort to improve the beekeeping, which has continued to date. The new method of work allowed the beekeepers to control the bee colony and to actively interfere in bee swarm. The volume of the hitherto production increased and new products were added – pollen, royal jelly, and propolis.  Migrating bee colonies are used to pollinate technical crops grown to get seeds. Beekeeping still remains a viable and developing branch.

Forestry – in the sense of active growing of forest cover is a very young discipline, which largely came into being alongside Maria Theresa´s administrative reforms and which was carried out by generations of foresters. Forestry is based on controlled wood harvesting and subsequent natural or artificial forest regeneration. It was mainly the noble manor estate that was forced to manage the forests, but it was villagers who participated with their manual work in it – felling down, handling, transport of wood to sawmills, planting out of young trees, and seasonal labours. The forest also provided the possibility of picking berries, mushrooms, herbs, and small pieces of wood.

Bio-agriculture – an alternative form of farming without application of artificial fertilizers and chemical agents. Most products won by farming were not intended for immediate consumption; these were provisions for the whole year, or for the winter at least.  For this reason, the crops were preserved and processed in other ways for long-term storage.  Cereals were stored for subsequent production of flour and groats.  Milk was used for the homemade production of butter, cheese, custard, or soft cheese. Fruits were dried and used for making plum jam; the production of fruit wines and fruit distillates is much younger.

Meat came mainly from home pig and sheep slaughters; cattle was slaughtered exclusively by butchers.  The basic products included smoked, cured and marinated meat, and a spectrum of butchers´ specialties – sausages, jitrnice, jelita, and tlačenka (» a kind of head cheese) for long-term preservation. The more modern methods included cooling of meat in ice chambers, and freezing.

The 19th-century effort to improve and develop farming introduced many new institutions and activities, which survived long in the rural environment. These included in particular Farming Clubs, which took care of the introduction of new technologies, tools, fertilizers, seed, and breeding livestock. The Clubs became a basis for subsequently founded associations of e.g. beekeepers, etc., which – organized after the Second World wars as Czech associations – tried to mediate new knowledge, breeding livestock and planting stock. As a side activity, they also organized cultural events focused on annual customs and dance parties.

From their beginning, the “improving” endeavours in agriculture included organization of exhibitions, shows, and trainings. These were to highlight success reached in cattle and horse breeding, and to introduce new technologies and machinery.  The tradition of exhibitions continued after the Second Worlds War, however, it was aimed at home breeders´ and gardeners´ production. This was resulting in exhibitions of small domestic animals and fruits, and in homemade wine and recently even distillate tastings.  The latter two activities are connected with other cultural activities and they become a platform to present several elements of traditional folk culture, especially folklore.

The forms of traditional farming is closely related to many customs, rituals, and magic practices aimed at prosperity, protection from harmful influences, and maintenance and renewal of corresponding legal status. These acts differ in their origin and only the fact that their importance decreased to the level of customs, was the reason for unifying them in a single category.  Ceremonies and rituals concerning good harvest and its protection are mostly connected with a large pagan system of pre-Christian agrarian societies. Magic practices are mostly associated with cattle breeding and the effort to get sufficient amounts of milk; these acts often involved Christian attributes, such as consecrated wafer, holy water, and others. The wide spectrum of legal acts was reflected in inspections in fields and cadastral areas, in admissions to a community, in wages for communal servants, as well as in vintners´ customs based on the right to grow grapevine and to make wine.

The struggle to assess and mediate the many-year-long cultural tradition of agrarian society, its knowledge, way of life and customs led to the development of agrarian tourism in the last fifty years. This activity is focused on themes, situations and environment that can be “engrafted” onto common touristic standard to create an impression of reality. The procedures can differ and the spectrum of products is wide, beginning with stays at “farms”, where it is possible to eat healthy homemade products, to be in contact with animals and manual labour, through diverse thematic events (vintage festivals, plum harvest festivals, potato harvest festival, and sheep and goat festivals, to bike paths and trails to explore farming, wine growing etc. (wine bike trails)

Literature:  J. Kramařík: Zemědělství. [Agriculture] In: Československá vlastivěda III. Lidová kultura. Praha 1968, pp. 29-55.- J. Jančář: Tradiční polní hospodářství. Chov dobytka [Traditional Arable and Pastoral Farming. Cattle Breeding]. In: Vlastivěda moravská 10. Lidová kultura na Moravě. Brno – Strážnice 2000, pp. 33-56.-  J. a L. Petráňovi: Rolník v evropské tradiční kultuře [The Peasant in European Traditional Culture]. Praha 2000.

1.1. Agriculture and husbandry

1.1.1. Agriculture and landscape: types of farming in dependence on geographical conditions, forming of landscape by agricultural activities.

1.1.2. Traditional farming: forms, ways and organization of labour

1.1.3  Modern agriculture

1.1.3.1. Agricultural tools – traditional tools and added modern machines, homemade purpose mechanisms

1.1.4 Organizational forms of labour

1.1.4.1. Agricultural mass production – Large agricultural estates, owners´ cooperative, agricultural enterprise, farm

1.1.4.2. Self-employed peasant, vintner, self-employed agricultural worker

1.1.4.2. Farming as subsidiary occupation connected with the sale of non-consumed products

1.1.4.3. Gardening, animal husbandry

1.1.4.4. Agricultural worker

1.1.4.5. Seasonal agricultural worker

1.1.5. Types of agricultural production

1.1.5.1. Crop growing – grain, root crops, forage crops, technical crops, herbs and seeds, tobacco

1.1.5.2. Animal husbandry – cattle, pigs, horses, goats, sheep, poultry, small animals

1.1.5.2.1. Sheep farming

1.1.5.3. Beekeeping

1.1.5.4. Fruit growing

1.1.5.5. Viticulture

1.1.5.6. Hop growing

1.1.5.7. Vegetable growing

1.1.5.7.1. Group of gardeners´ allotments

1.1.5.8. Forestry  – artificial growing of forests and gamekeeping (peasantry, game enclosures), herb and forest fruit gathering

1.1.5.9. Bio-production

1.1.6. Processing of agricultural products, their preservation and storage

1.1.6.1. Home pug-slaughter – cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, small animals, and poultry, with overlapping to diet in the sense of prepared foods.

1.1.6.2. Preservation of fruits and vegetable (drying, plum jam), only marginally the production of stewed fruits, jams, and syrups.

1.1.6.3. Production of alcoholic beverages – pressing of grape and fruit wine, distillation of slivovice (» plum brandy)

1.1.6.4. Freezing

1.1.7. Agriculture exhibitions – fairs, exhibitions of small animals, fruits, and flowers

1.1.7.1. wine and slivovice tastings

1.1.8. Professional organizations – Farming clubs, Czech Association of Gardeners, Czech Association of Small Animal Breeders, Citrus Fruit Growers, modern clubs based on trade chambers.

1.1.9. Customs and traditions related to farm works

1.1.10. Agricultural tourism – agro-tourism

1.1.10.1. Wine paths and trails, wine festivals, plum harvest festival, potato harvest festivals, sheep and goat festivals

1.2. Hunting

1.2.1. Fishing – organized forms of fishing in rivers and ponds (fish farming)

1.2.1.2. sports angling – in small reservoirs and trout streams

1.2.2. Gamekeeping – organized forms of gamekeeping clubs´ activities on hunting grounds, and a controlled wild game shooting.

1.2.3. Poaching – a kind of secret hunting fin the past (shooting, snares, pits to hung wolfs) with overlapping to present-day

1.3. Folk production

Folk production is defined as a summary of handmade productions (meaning pragmatic activities whose goal is to get and create products for the own need and for the market), variable in terms of time, locations, ethnicity, and economy, which provide folk culture with its peculiar features as seen from the perspective of production, fine arts and society, and which are typical for it at a particular time and in a particular realm. The traditional folk production features handcrafting, i.e. a close bound between the producer and the material (mostly materials which are available and can be processed very simply, in the part these were exclusively natural materials), an emphasis on the functionality of the products, which dominates even over the applied decorative techniques, and the application of traditional techniques, i.e. often very archaic but effective production processes, which are passed down from generation to generation.  Other important features of traditional folk culture include technical and technological variability, and its non-uniform development in time and space. In addition to material earmarks, folk production must be evaluated as a societal phenomenon, which influences social bounds and interactions within local communities and, in the younger period, in larger regions. The adjective “folk” refers to the production´s origin in and the connection with the ensembles of traditional pre-industrial culture; however, it is often not possible and correct in terms of methodology to differ between the folk and the non-folk elements in the past and contemporary handcrafted production. From economic and legal points of view, ethnology divides folk production into home production (for own needs), homemade production (paid labour done by trained producers), and craft production (professional products intended for the market). Traditional forms of production were and are influenced by other organizational forms of production (manufacture, factory). The present-day handicraft production, which is based on traditional techniques and which is organized by diverse institutions, is sometimes called “folk art production”.

Literature: V.Scheufler – J. Staňková: Výroba [Production]. In: Československá vlastivěda III. Lidová kultura. Praha 1968, pp. 55-103. – V. Scheufler: Domácká výroba v českých zemích, Etnografický atlas 2. Praha 1991. –  Z. Martínek: Řemeslná, domácká a manufakturní výroba a obchod v Čechách v letech 1752–1756 [Craft, Homemade and Manufacture Production and Trade in Bohemia between 1752 and 1756]. Etnografický atlas Čech, Moravy a Slezska III. Praha 2000. – J. Jančář: Rukodělná výroba [Handicraft Production]. In: Vlastivěda moravská 10. Lidová kultura na Moravě. Brno – Strážnice 2000, pp. 61-78.

1.3.1. Natural material

1.3.2. Traditional techniques

1.3.3. Organizational forms

1.3.3.1. Craft, small business

1.3.3.2. Homemade production

1.3.3.3. Home production

1.3.4. Folk art production

1.3.4.1. Centre for Folk Art Production

1.3.4.2. Bearer of Folk Craft Tradition

1.3.4.3. Association of Folk Craftsmen and Producers

1.3.5. Types of productions as to material

1.3.5.1. Natural plating (straw, split-wood and reed mace weaving, basket making)

1.3.5.2. Wood (carpentry, wheelwright´s trade, cooperage, woodworking, shingle production)

1.3.5.3. Textile and clothing (tailoring, weaving, lace production, dying and print on textiles)

1.3.5.4. Leather (footwear production, furriery)

1.3.5.5. Silicates and clays (ceramics, glass making)

1.3.5.6. Metal (smith´s trade, farrier´s trade, tinsmith´s trade, tinker´s trade)

1.3.5.7. Stone (stonemasonry, art of stone sculptures, excavation of stone)

1.3.5.8. Foods, greases and chemical substances

1.3.6. Professional organizations (societies, clubs, associations, guilds)

1.3.7. Schools and mass education

1.3.8. Trade shows, exhibitions, contests

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