In recent years, cherries have brought thousands of visitors to the Goriška Brda region in western Slovenia, but the small village of Brusnice is just as proud of its long tradition of growing cherries. This small southern Slovenian community, nestled beneath the rolling hills of the Gorjanci Range, once exported its fruit to the Imperial Capital – and the local residents are determined to supply the country with cherries for years to come.
The tradition of cherry growing in Brusnice has been passed down from generation to generation. Over the years, a special variety of cherries emerged in the area. According to locals, it’s more resistant to diseases than other varieties and has a particularly intense taste. That taste once made Brusnice cherries famous even outside Slovenia. In Austro-Hungarian times, many of the cherries were shipped to Vienna, where they were enjoyed by connoisseurs.
The village was so proud of its cherries that in 1912, it organized the first cherry festival ever held in Slovenia. Even World War I and the breakup of Austria-Hungary didn’t change things much; records indicate that exports to Austria continued in the interwar era.
In the upcoming decades, however, the advent of large-scale industrialized farming marginalized Brusnice cherries, and the village’s tradition was all but forgotten – except by the locals themselves. When interest in locally grown products began to rise after independence, the annual cherry festival was revived. It culminates each year in the selection of a Cherry Queen.
The cherries are a perfect answer to many 21st century concerns. Because they tend to be resistant to disease, they can be grown organically – without the use of insecticides. And because they aren’t transported over long distances, they are also seen as being more environmentally friendly than cherries imported from countries such as Spain. Local growers hope that authorities will register Brusnice cherries as a Slovenian specialty, making them better known across Slovenia – and beyond. Except for the annual festival, Brusnice cherries still remain one of Slovenia’s best-kept secrets.
Source: RTVSLO.si | Jaka Bartolj