Working in the salt pans as a contestant on the show Survivor

“My mother wanted to go to the salt flats,” said Urška. The girl with lively eyes and quick thoughts is one of the youngest in the ten-member De Faveri family from Pobegov pri Koper. Since the end of June, they have been collecting salt at the Sečovel salt pans. Day after day, they returned to the rented salt fields, just as Tanja’s father, the grandfather of her and Denis’s children, Adrijan Čeligo from Sveti Petar, had come before them. For three decades, every summer he first cultivated the fields, and then went to Sečovlje to harvest white gold. “It is right that we experience what the father-in-law used to do,” Denis summed up the family’s decision. “This is an opportunity to learn about the daily work of ancestors. We found out that it’s hazing.”

Šimen Zupančič

The members of the De Faveri family shared and replaced the work that was done by their grandmother Adrijan and grandmother Andrej themselves. In the photo, Pija, Matija, Tanja, Denis and Kristjan are standing from the left, Marta, Danjel and Urška are crouching.

Adrian was a full-time employee in the salt pans and, like most employees, he did all the work himself. The family By Faveri she stepped into the saltworks’ taperines, flat wooden flip flops, together, they shared the tasks and took turns. Nevertheless, the facts are the same as those from centuries ago: the salt panner shakes the salt at least three times, first he scoops it into piles with gaveri, that is wooden scrapers, then he loads it onto the salt pan cart with a shovel, and finally he transfers it from the cart to the drain. Son Christian he said that during the month and a half they collected an average of four cartloads of salt per day, that is two tons. After this, we can imagine how difficult the work of a salt panner is.

Relaxation, joy, peace

During my visit in mid-August, I could not discern any traces of anguish and torment on the faces of the members of the De Faveri family. After just under two months of working in the salt flats, they had no leathery faces or chapped lips, just a few salt abrasions on their feet. On the contrary, each of them enjoyed at least one more life. The children were at scout camps, handball competitions, some of them were training to extinguish forest fires and extinguished the fire above Ospo. Denis was at work in the morning. One of the daughters worked regularly in a kindergarten, the other in forest workshops with preschool children and was preparing for college exams. Christian and Matthias worked every morning at the Museum of Saltworks in Fontaniggeh, in the abandoned area of ​​the Sečovel Saltworks. From time to time, one or the other “treated” to a hike with the scouts or an outing with friends. All four younger children went on a spiritual vacation right after school, even before the “rush” of salt. Denis spent his vacation in the salt pans.
The atmosphere they brought to a place with more than 700 years of tradition was relaxed, joyful and very calm. The three youngest children, drinking, Urska in Daniel, were playing near the wooden hut placed at the entrance to the salt field. It happened that in the game they threw stones into the Lido – the main channel in front of the salt fields. According to the manager’s warning, the stones had to be removed from the channel. That was their pleasure. The salt mud is so soft, black and pleasant! They learned that everything they do in the salt flats has consequences – good or bad.
Matija, Kristjan and Denis were raking salt on the fonds, which are a kind of salt beds. They grabbed the crystals from the embrace of the salt flats and collected them in pyramidal piles at the edges of the fields. Katja in Marta they slid across the surface of the crystallization pool with recycled aluminum shovels and caught the salt flower. The water ran out through the mesh on the shovel, leaving flakes of salt bloom on the surface. The air was saturated with salt and the sound of the wind from the sea.

To experience what nono used to do

With mom Tanya we stood in the shadow of the hut. “I spent my childhood on the salt flats. At that time, we could swim in the widest canal in the Sečovel Salt Flats, called Canal grande. It was a real joy. We children worked less. We walked around the cavedino, that is, the salt bed, breaking the salt flower, loading the salt on the cart or emptying it. We listened to the wisdom of the old salt workers and really felt good in their company. That’s why I wanted to treat the children to a nice summer. Let them bathe, and let’s also do something good and extremely interesting – unique.”
Her past aroused desire in her sons and was a journey to the summer when they all paid their respects to their ancestors. Because De Faveri’s memories of those who gave him life count, they are with the painter Vojko Gašperut ordered a copy of the picture from the old calendar of the salt pans with Tanja’s father Adrijan on it. They ordered the painting in February, which reminded them that they had to call the Soline company in March and agree on cooperation. At the beginning of the saltworks season, on the anniversary of the death of Nonot Adrijan, a mass was ordered for him and all the deceased saltworks in a nearby church. “The grateful thought of him accompanied us all the time while working,” Tanja added.

Preparations since spring

“Pool preparations for the salting season are key,” he said Klavdij Godnič, who has been the director of Soline since 2012. They start in mid-March. The same was true of the De Faveri family. To “go into the salt”, as they say in the slang of the salt workers, was not a last-minute decision. It is true that the commitment to prepare the salt fields surprised them, but did not deter them from their intention to experience the work of their ancestors, nonota Adrijan and pranonot Andrei.
The mentor at this stage was an experienced salt worker Dario Sauwho retired at the beginning of the summer. “I promised them that I would help them so that they would not give up,” he said. And the De Faveri family did not escape from the salt pans. Also thanks to him. Like other salt workers, they paved the paths between the fields and the crystallization basins, cleaned the canals around the evaporation basins, where dirt and bad water accumulate, and the crystallization basins, and most importantly – restored the petola.
Petola is a living layer of a few millimeters of salt pool. “We must not step there,” Urška summarized the first and most important rule for children and adults. Petola is a cultured layer of algae, bacteria, gypsum and minerals that prevents the salt from mixing with the sea mud at the bottom of the crystallization basin. It also acts as a filter. It gets damaged during the winter, but it is the key to the world fame of salt from the Sečovel and Strunjan salt pans.
If the foot penetrates the petola, this biosediment composed of minerals and microorganisms, and sinks into the mud below, the salt field is compromised. Disagreement begins to mix between the crystals and the value of the superior quality salt is negated. Piran salt with a protected designation of origin, like world-famous products such as champagne, Parma ham, Parmesan and also Istrian olive oil, is overthrown by recklessness; to the level of industrial salt, which is used to sprinkle roads in winter. The fact that the saltworks produced it according to the traditional process, according to a tradition that is more than 700 years old, and only with traditional tools, has no meaning anymore.

salt panners

Šimen Zupančič

For Matija, who is most committed to working on the salt pans, the salt pans said that he learns quickly and that he has also mastered the job of waterman.

Syllable as one

The De Faveri family wanted to rent a fund with 18 fields first. Then the company asked them if they would prepare two such funds. There are fewer and fewer regularly employed salt workers, salt harvesting is being abandoned, so it is important for the company that as many fields as possible are in use.
When the family made a decision, they embarked on an experience in unison, although they didn’t know what kind. Their consistency was noticed at the Sečovel Salt Flats. “They decided on something and the whole family stood behind it,” the head of salt production shared his observation Diego Lazar. He noticed that each member of the family had a task. The youngest took care of drinking water for the whole family. From time to time, salt bloom or salt impurities were cleaned. The older daughters “specialized” in harvesting the salt flower.
Lazar, who has been associated with the salt pans since 1994, confirmed that their grandfather Adrijan left his soul in the salt pans. But even his successors are not like flies. “They produced 150 tons of salt. That’s huge for two smaller fields. Only with the kind of commitment they have, the salt pans will live on.”

Audition for a reality show

Salts have a calming effect on Tanja. Because he appreciates the tradition and originality captured in the Piran salt, he believes that schoolchildren should spend a working day in the salt pans. This would enrich summer camps, nature schools or days at sea. “Our salt pans are unique!”
Salt farming could be a real test for reality shows like Survival. “You must not miss. You have to be regular every morning – adding brine to the fields, breaking the salt flower at noon, and raking from 4 p.m. into the evening, loading and unloading salt. All in extreme summer conditions with the occasional very beneficial breeze. Day after day, the work is increasing, not decreasing. There is more and more salt. Even a rainy day, which gives immediate relief, brings more work.”
In the salt flats, once you arrive, you stay until you finish. You scoop up the salt, lift piles of salt, load the cart and empty it at the dump. Two full carts are about a ton of salt. “Our record is when we filled as many as 12 carts from nine salt fields in one afternoon. With the help of Tanja’s brother, who also spent his childhood in the salt pans, we worked well past midnight,” Denis said.

Quality is determined by the laboratory

When they “went into salt”, the De Faveri family did not know all the quality grades of salt. They knew about industrial (less appreciated) and food. Later they realized that the three classes are food. Quality control begins with a frame similar to a smaller window frame. The controller rests the surface of the frame on hand-picked and landfill-stored salt. The amount of “black dots”, i.e. impurities that have been mixed between the salt crystals from the petola, determines the quality. The more dark admixtures there are, the greater the possibility that the salt farmer invested effort in harvesting industrial salt. “You can see roughly what you have collected. But you can’t know,” Kristjan commented.
After the examination of impurities in the salt, samples are taken for the laboratory. “It has to be the right ratio of magnesium, calcium and other substances,” Tanja indicates the differences between salt of quality A, B and Piran salt. The salt we harvest in this northernmost part of the Mediterranean is a combination of many local factors. Its taste is given by the mother water trapped in the crystals, which is characterized by an average richer mineral composition than other salts.

Mentor Dario Sau told them during the preparation period that not everything is white salt. Minerals are not visible. But for Tanja, the first time they took the salt samples, it was almost nightfall. “That day I was alone on the salt flats with the three youngest. And we experienced the first storm on the salt flats! Denis was just at the memorial march of veterans from Ankaran to Triglav, Matija with scouts, Kristjan at handball. I thought the salt was a little more yellow. All night I wondered how they would rate her. We couldn’t have put in more effort than we did. I was worried about how we would proceed. Then it turned out that the salt was almost traditional A, it just didn’t have enough calcium.”


Source: Svet24.si by novice.svet24.si.

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