Fruits have been grown in Slovakia since the early Middle Ages. The lords and rulers also tried to disseminate the enlightenment that fruits might save their situation in the event of a bad grain harvest. It was already in 1786 that Emperor Joseph II issued an order to plant fruit trees along public roads in Austria-Hungary. Thus fruit nurseries were established and education was provided for farmers.
California in Považie
After the formation of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, the new Czechoslovak government supported the establishment of fruit nurseries. The natural conditions around Trenčín were perfect for growing fruits, so this activity was welcomed with great enthusiasm. The press made bold statements that fruit growing is “bread for the people” in Považie, or that there are such ideal conditions for growing fruit in Považie that a second California could arise here.
The man who planted trees
In Trenčín, a teacher and a member of the city council Juraj Boček was the “father” of fruit growing. He actively engaged in planting in Brezina and founding the Cherry Orchard in 1912, yet fruit trees won his heart. Apart from teaching at school, he taught children and adults to plant and graft trees throughout his life, for which he was awarded by Emperor Francis Joseph I. He is remembered for the walnut orchard, which he planted on the slope near what is now the cemetery below the housing estate of Juh. As a tribute, the allotment garden in this part of the city, which was established much later, still carries his name and is called Bočkove sady.
There were also several tree nurseries in Trenčín. The first mentioned nursery was planted in 1888. The fruit trees were pruned by Juraj Boček and the roses were pruned by Ján Tekula. The nursery was destroyed by a flood in 1893. Later, a garden was planted in the town yard, where they planned “to school the children in the growing of fruit trees under the supervision of experts. A boy who plants a fruit tree himself and cares for it, will not allow the devastation and killing of fruit trees.”
In 1920, a state tree nursery was planted on the right side of the road from Trenčín to Soblahov (the area of today’s Na Zongorke Street). As Trenčianske noviny (Trenčín newspaper) reported in 1923, three years from the planting, there were already 100,000 grafted trees in the nursery. That meant that from spring 1924 on, the nursery was able to supply 24,000 seedlings a year for planting. Furthermore, another 200,000 wild fruit trees were grown from the seeds, most of which were given away free of charge to schools so that farmers and students themselves could graft and plant them.
Horticultural exhibitions since 1924
In 1922, a branch of the Slovak Pomological Society was set up in Trenčín. It organized very popular events and exhibitions specialized in fruit-growing. At one of their meetings, a call was made: “It would be highly desirable, if the wealthier people, major capitalists and banks set up crop processing plants, dryers and plants for fruit juice processing, marmalade production and fruit preservation.” However, there is no mention of whether anyone took this challenge to heart.
Author: Prepared in collaboration with the State Archive in Trenčín.
- Pictures 1 – 5: from the presentation book about Trenčín and surrounding areas, probably published in 1932
- Picture 6: from the Ján Hanušin collection