Home » A chalet on Route 151, witness to the start of fruit growing in the Valley

A chalet on Route 151, witness to the start of fruit growing in the Valley

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Much has been written about the link between Cinco Saltos and the origin of fruit growing in the region. Colonia La Picasa, named like that before they built the Ballester Dam and its water steps, renamed it. Much was spread about the experimental farm financed by Ferrocarriles del Sud, whose professionals worked with the mission of finding the best ways to cultivate, to harvest apples and pears worthy of export. And much was said about how that Station became the headquarters of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences of the UNCo. But what is known about the chalet that witnessed such a process linked to the land, for so many years?

The Board of Directors of the university campus declared it a site of historical interestas well as the local Deliberative Council and the province’s own Legislature. A fire in 2013 and a storm in 2014 affected the property that shelters it and had to declare the building emergency to save it from deterioration over time. Despite all the setbacks, the original chalet stands firm behind huge trees, next to Route 151three kilometers from the urban commons.

Although most of the data on the “Experimental Farm” place its beginnings in the year 1918, the building with Gabled roof, with moldings in its corners in the English style, it was completed in 1924., as published by the local site cincosaltos.info. Next to the headquarters for scientific work “the windmill was installed brand Agar Cross & Co. Ltd., and a tower was erected that houses the water tank with a ‘alpende’ [cobertizo] adjacent. In addition, they built offices for staff and a tennis court was builtthey added. For all this, a budget of £3,500.

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The first fruit plants were brought from Australia, through a contact in Buenos Aires. Photo: Flower Jump.

From there and to the entire Valley the best ways to cultivate that semi-desert land were studied, which began to receive irrigation. They advised the first settlers, who had become producers, who had put all their effort and capital into preparing the soil. Even at the cost of living on ranches, until they could build their adobe house.

Based on the initial results, applied to import fruit plants from Australia, through a contact in Buenos Aires. And they proposed the installation of a nursery, from where they could supply the farmers, at cost price, detailed the book “Colonia La Picasa (1914 – 2014)”, by the agronomist Federico Witkowski. By financing all this, Ferrocarriles del Sud aimed to expand the cultivated area, because the transfer by train of more and better crops meant movement and guaranteed profits.

A photo of the chalet published in the book “My life as a railwayman”, by Arturo Coleman.


The professionals of the Experimental Farm distributed the newsletter “Opportune Suggestions” with recommendations for the farmers.


That nursery pondered varieties of apple trees, some current, others not so much: Delicious, Jonathan, Rome Beauty, King David, StaymanWinesap, Yellow Newton Pippin, Glengyle Red y Winter Banana, entre otras. Y entre las varieties of pear treeswere: Willam’s Von Chrettien –very successful at the time in the Valley–, Packam’sTriumph, PasseCrassane, D’Aremberg, Winter Nellis, Beurred’Anjou, FlemishBeauty, etc.

Juan Barcia Trelles, agronomist engineer native of Spain was the first headline of that brand new project and over time, its name was chosen to distinguish the chalet that today summons us in this rescue. His relationship with the British company had begun in 1908 and after relinquishing leadership, he had significant participation in society local.

Photo: Flower Jump.

Thanks to the awareness-raising work of Barcia Trelles, his team and his successors, the 1930s were lived among plantations of some 200 plants per hectarewith free driving [sin espaldera]what They could reach five meters in height. and they required a longer time to go into production than the current ones, about seven years. The harvest could be done in several days without so much acceleration like the current one”, explained Rodolfo Rodríguez, in an archive interview, for RÍO NEGRO. since 1928 ‘cured’ with pulverization via blood traction, with hose. The products used were nicotine sulfate and lead arsenate, both inorganic.

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A ‘cure’ in 1922, with blood traction. Photo: Portal Cinco Saltos Info.

The years passed and the property became part of INTAuntil the creation of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, in the Provincial University of Neuquén, sought the agreement to use it as headquarters, with the academic contribution of the professionals of the Agricultural Institute. With the birth of UNCOthe panorama as it is currently known, in which this chalet functions as an administrative space, was achieved almost 100 years later.

“In favorable years it yields a good harvest and the fruits are exquisite,” said Juan Barcia Trelles in his first reports.


Photo: Kindness.


Experimental Farm in 1914. Photo: Regional Museum of Fruit Growing – Cinco Saltos Info.


Photo: Old Photos Cinco Saltos.


Experimental Farm – 1918. Photo: Book 100 years Cinco Saltos.

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