The picturesque village of Askas offers a wonderful scenery with rich flora and fauna. This is favoured both by the climate conditions, as well as by the morphology of the ground.
In Askas, uncultivated pieces of land interchange harmonically with cultivated pieces of land. Most pieces of land are uncultivated, dressed with wild vegetation. At the same time, however, one can encounter various cultivations at the village, such as olive trees, almond trees, walnut trees, fruit baring trees, cherries and vineyards. Additionally, grains, pulses and some other garden products such as vegetables are cultivated in the village.
The area is partly considered as dry and for this reason cultivations need limited irrigation. The cultivation of land begins during the autumn months and is completed a few days before Christmas, so that the cultivated sowed seeds can favour from the rainfall.
In older periods, the cultivation of land was done with the help of a pair of oxen, which would drag the basic farming tool, the plough. This way, the agricultural work was in some way easier, but despite the help, it did not stop requiring the labour and devotion of the farmer. The basic means of transport, both for the farmers and their products, was the donkey.
Most families in Askas earned their living from the products offered by the cultivable land. The biggest part of the harvest would be consumed by the family since most families of the village had many members. The families would make sure that their harvest covered their nutritious needs throughout the year. Hence, farmers would maintain storage rooms in their houses.
Undoubtedly, the natural environment affected the life of the village’s residents, who, by exploiting their land correctly, managed to develop the cultivation of specific species. The residents of the village, especially in the previous years, were mainly nurtured thanks to the natural gift. However, it must be noted that during periods when the land was not particularly fertile, the residents sought work in other areas.
In conclusion, the natural environment, apart from cultivated pieces of land, offers rich natural vegetation and distinctive species of the Cypriot fauna such as hares, partridges, thrushes, culvers, turtle doves, as well as all types of reptiles.
Moreover, one can meet excellent greenery areas which maintain pines, poplars and multicoloured flowers both at the Community Park and the Community Council.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the residents would be supplied with water from the village’s fountains. The flow of water depended on the annual rainfall. Using the fountain water, the residents would cover their daily needs. They would also carry their clothes to the fountains to wash them. Today, only three fountains, which have been preserved, are maintained in the Community.
President of the Community Council
Nature has generously offered Askas with its beauties. All visitors have the opportunity to enjoy the wonderful nature while strolling along the Nature Path.
The Path stretches from the residence of Sofia Tsagkaridi, which is located on the main interurban road, up to the “Pano Ampelia” Slope. While strolling along the Path, one can breathe fresh air and enjoy the natural environment.
What makes an impression to ramblers is the open boundless view towards the occupied by the Turkish troop mountain region of Pentadaktylos, seen while walking downwards to the residence of Georgios Mylonas.
On their course, ramblers will encounter all kinds of trees and a variety of flowers. They will also get to enjoy the green colour of hazel and walnut trees. During the spring months, when vegetation is dressed in its most beautiful colours, strolling along the path can be a magical journey.
Undoubtedly, ramblers will be enchanted by the singing of the nightingales and the other winged musicians of the wild vegetation.
Finally, it must be noted that benches have been placed along the path so that visitors can sit, rest and enjoy the fresh air, nature’s colours and the birds’ melodies for as much time as possible.
The residents of Askas deal with cultivation of olive groves even today. The cultivation of olive trees goes through various stages, such as taking care of the ground, collecting the olives and producing olive oil. However, the determinant factors as far as olive cultivation is concerned are the climate conditions, as well as the morphology of the ground.
A basic precondition for the production of olives is to take care of the ground. At first, olive cultivators clear the ground from weeds and then they enrich it with nutritious ingredients.
At the beginning of spring or during the harvest, the residents of Askas prune the olive trees, this way achieving to increase or at least maintain their productivity.
Approximately from the end of October until the end of February, the residents of Askas debouch in the olive groves for the harvest or else “louvisma” of the olives. Traditionally, the collection of olives is done by canning the olive trees, the well known “vaklisma”. More specifically, the villagers would use a wooden stick called “vakla” to beat the tree in order to make the olives fall on the ground. The productivity of the olive groves is enhanced by correct irrigation. Olive trees do not require frequent irrigation to become fruitful and for this reason they may even be planted at the most infertile areas of the village. However, more frequent irrigation of the olive trees is required during the spring months, since this contributes significantly in increasing productivity.
At this point, it is worth mentioning the traditional way of multiplying the olive trees which is called grafting. In particular, farmers attach a wild olive tree branch with another breed of the same tree. However, the production of olives is not immediate, since every new tree produces olives three years after it has been planted.
Ionas Ioannis, Traditional Cyprus Professions, Lefkosia 2001, pp. 487-497
Great Cyprus Encyclopaedia, volumes 2 & 5
The almond tree is a local Mediterranean deciduous tree of small dimensions. The cultivation of the almond tree appears to have spread in other Mediterranean countries by the Greeks and the Romans, whereas its cultivation in Cyprus is dated back to the very ancient years.
The almond tree belongs to the family of the Prunus trees and its naming constitutes the common name of the species Prunus amygdalus communis.
Its main feature is that it blossoms before its leaves appear. Its flowers are impressive, white and pleasant to smell, whereas its petals bear a slightly rosy colour just before blossoming. Its leaves are bayonet, notched with a small stem. Its crops, the well-known almonds, are edible oval drupes with a sharp edge. Its shell, instead of being fleshy like all other stone fruits, is in fact a green and grey shell with a thin down which contains one or two seeds enclosed in a wooden shell with multiple holes. The seeds have a white flesh and their variety determines whether they are sweet or bitter.
The taste of the almonds determines the usage of the different varieties. The sweet almonds are used as table dry nuts, in the making of sweets, in almond byproducts, in drinks, as well as in the extraction of edible oil. The bitter almonds are used in the pharmaceutical industry as palliatives for asthma and cough, as well as in perfumes. Moreover, a type of oil which contains prussic acid also known as hydrogen cyanide and which is a well-known poison is also extracted from these almonds. This substance is removed from the core of the seeds by washing them with alkali so that the almond oil produced could be used in the production of perfumes.
The almond tee is an indigenous plant originating from western Asia and South Africa and apart from Cyprus it is widely cultivated in Greece, Spain, Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.
Almond wood is heavy and hard and is considered to be suitable for fine carpentry.