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Gran Canaria

Gastronomy

The town with a million strawberries

The municipality of Valsequillo is one of the few on the island that doesn’t reach the coast. But the locals only have to look around them to see magnificent mountain scenery and little valleys with their gorgeous green shades, the greenery of indigenous flowers which take pride of place in blue tajinastes, or the greenery of strawberry leaves giving it a striking presence.

Landscape with tajinaste plants in flower

The highlight of its natural landscape today is a tree that arrived here thanks to farmers and is the subject of its most popular fiesta: the almond tree. Then there are the artisan cheeses with their exquisite bouquet, the product of local rural cattle. All this can then be washed down with wine from its own vineyards. What more could we ask for? Well, let’s break it down and see.

On the landscape at Valsequillo a route stands out, which is to be enjoyed in all its splendour, and should be undertaken in April. The name of this journey says it all: the route of the blue tajinaste plant, or in geographical terms, the footpath from Tenteniguada to the Caldera de los Marteles (or the other way round, depending which way you’re coming…).

A bee buzzing around a flower

“As we made our way up… we came across a paradise of Canary flowers in full bloom. We were struck by the presence of tajinaste plants, in all colours imaginable”, writes, in one of his articles, English botanist David Bramwell, one of the scientists who has studied the plants on these islands the most, and who naturally has walked along this route. When the flowers are in full bloom, the buzzing of the bees and bumblebees is so intense that we can hardly make out any other sound.

If we add to this extraordinary frenzy of pollen collecting here, to what the bees have already done in the preceding months in the flowering period of the almond trees, (or almendreros as they are known by the Canarians), the end result is one of the most highly recommended gastronomic products in the municipality (alongside the actual almond and the pastries based on it): its honey.

Spring flowers

We have seen the bumblebees along this pathway before enjoying the overwhelming abundance of flowers in Spring (an indigenous species, no less, the Bombus canariensis), and we come across them once more, but this time as a controlled flock around the extensive strawberry plantations, for which this municipality is becoming more and more famous.

Nearly a million kilos of fresón strawberries (a hybrid variety) are produced each year in Valsequillo, bound for consumption both on the island and beyond. It is not uncommon, when the farmers integrate their crops, to notice the presence of so called “white bottomed” bumblebees around these estates: for 60€, farmers can buy a hive which can pollenize the flowers from the strawberry plantations for eight whole weeks.

Giant strawberries from Valsequillo

And the chinche bug of the tajinaste plant also works around here, by eating the thrips, the insect which is harmful to the strawberries. For this reason, the strawberries here “come up nice and juicy, with bumblebees, bees, tajinastes, garlic and the wise hands of the farmers all working to guarantee they are top quality”, in the words of journalist Gaumet Florido, who is frequently seen roaming the fields around here.

We guess you are probably wondering at this point, “What, garlic?” Yes, they are planted among the strawberry plants to stave off certain plagues. “Can we visit these strawberry fields in Valsequillo?” you may also ask. Of course you can, from school children to tourists, all can come on trips here, and the Town Hall even organizes guided tours. Finally, you are dying to know “Do these strawberries taste good?” For that, you will just have to come and try them!