Grown in greenhouses on the island of São Miguel, the local pineapple (Ananassa Sativus, Lindl) originated in Central and South America, and were introduced to the island as an ornamental plant by Portuguese navigators in the 17th-18th centuries.
Initially regarded as a botanical curiosity, its cultivation was marked for the landed gentry and supplied to wealthier homes. Its production gained prominence during the nineteenth century, thanks to the efforts of generations of farmers, who perfected its cultivation and agricultural techniques that accentuated its specific characteristics.
From this period on, the pineapple became an economic source of revenue with potential for driving the Azorean economy. With citrus groves decimated by gum disease, there was a need to find a substitute for the island’s orange exports and fill the gap in the region’s commercial revenues caused the loss of the staple. In 1864, the first industrial-scale greenhouse was built (with the capacity to support 800 plants) and the first exports of the fruit were begun. Ultimately, there were a total of 4300 production greenhouses cultivating the fruit: during the “Golden Age” of its exports.
Over the years, this exceptional fruit became a true “ex-libris” of the region, with greenhouses located in the main centres of (in descending order) the municipalities of Ponta Delgada, Lagoa, Vila Franca do Campo and Ribeira Grande: the civil parish of Fajã de Baixo has the greatest number of greenhouses in the region.