The Kid Should See This

Harvesting cork in rural Spain

At the Las Varas del Zumajo estate in the La Mancha region of Spain, expert axemen carefully harvest the thick exterior bark from cork oak trees. This cork extraction occurs every nine years, in July and August when the trees are not as vulnerable to the elements. The red cork cambium or phellogen inside must not be harmed so that the tree can remain healthy and continue to grow back bark for the next harvest.

Cork oak trees can be harvested up to 15 times, starting from when a tree is 25 years old. Cork after the first two harvests is considered higher quality. Filmmakers at Kauri captured this artisanal tradition in this wordless video titled Harvest: A Rural Spain Anthology • Cork.

Cork harvesting takes place in a dehesa, that is an agroforestry system which exists in the Iberian peninsula where human intervention is compatible with the conservation of nature, vegetation and fauna. Here, locals work hard to make the most of the resources available to them, respecting the production cycles and the environment.

Spain produces 22% of the world’s cork and in this estate, up to nine tonnes are obtained daily, the corcheros working on 20 to 200 year old trees. Using only their axes, wooden poles, ladders and hands. Respecting the tree, making sure it suffers no damage.

Harvested cork planks are boiled—this cleans and softens them—and then cut or punched out into cork shapes. The remaining material is crushed into tiny pieces and mixed with polyurethane food-grade glue. That mix is molded into agglomerated corks.

Watch more videos from Kauri, including 1953: Preserving and operating a wimmenumermolen polder mill and Ralliers: Table tennis in London’s public spaces. Plus: More harvesting videos.

This feature is being tested. Saves will disappear if you clear cookies. Find saved videos here.

🌈 Related videos

How are tomatoes grown and harvested?

Rion Nakaya

From seed to sapling – Time lapse of an oak tree

Rion Nakaya

How nomads put together a ger (or yurt)

Rion Nakaya

Life as a lighthouse keeper – They Are The Last

Rion Nakaya

Think Like a Tree – Problem solving with nature’s best ideas

Rion Nakaya

Studying the oak, caterpillar, great tit food chain

Rion Nakaya

Foraging Seaweed: Harvesting a French Coastal Superfood

Rion Nakaya

Who grows the cocoa in your chocolate bar?

Rion Nakaya

Harvesting carrots with ski lift-style ‘toplift’ machines

Rion Nakaya

 
Browse the TKSST Video Collections

Get 7 smart videos delivered every week.

 

Subscribe