Bonfires for Angels

dicembre 6, 2014

On the eve of december 10 it’s tradition, along Le Marche coastline, to light bonfires. This is related to the Holy House of Loreto history: tradition tells us that on december 10, 1294, the Holy House of Nazareth, already moved in Dalmazia, was taken by Angels across the Adriatic sea and came to rest in a wooded area nearby Recanati. The bonfires, called focarò, or focaricci, depending on the local slang, started to be light since the seventeenth century at least, to commemorate the angelic flight of the Holy House and help it on its way. The ritual had several steps: first of all, people had to gather woods, then they went at the meeting point bringing chairs to sit and pray by the fire. At The end, children and lovers, hend by hand, played jumping across The fire nearly off. Nowday The tradition is almost lost, but Someone is trying to save it, so it can happen that the owners of winery in Montelparo, organized an event based on The promotion of The wines they Made, local food, The lightining of The fire, folk music and traditional dance. the vinery is called Azienda Agricola Gabriele Vitali, and the event was organized with the help of a local organization called Circolo Culinario Cuochi Pasticcioni, involved in the promotion of local business, traditons and food.

Nearly there!

Nearly there!

I got at the farm at 5 p.m. and in a while all the partecipants were there too. The event begun with a visit at the wine cellar, where the oenoloist explained the process used to make wine. It was interesting to know they are the only farm in the area to make spumante, an italian sparckling wine.

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After this short tour of the farm we moved in the room where tastings usually are organized. You can book a tasting of the six kind of wine made there, each of them matched with some food. On this event we had the chance to taste all the wines, and to taste home made salami, prosciutto, local cheese and home made bread.

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One of the best moments were when the oenologist, with the saber got as a present by his friends for the degree, showed the way to open the spumante, when Gabriele read a poem by a local poet who wrote in the local slang, the lighting of the bonfires.

Gabriele reading 'A zappa? by Danilo Cappella

Gabriele reading ‘A zappa? by Danilo Cappella

All along the evening, every now and then, the elderly soul of the event cheered people on with his squeeze box, and a local singer sang some kind of folk song.

Grandpa Mario with Maria Teresa Vettore

Grandpa Mario with Maria Teresa Vettore

the pleasure of the evening was increased by the present of some friends that are often present in such events and give me the feling of being part of a large, beautiful, family.

Annunci

Sleeping in the garden

dicembre 2, 2014

This morning I’ve got an e-mail about an interesting and positive event: The publication, next february, of a book about rural tourism, which aims to be a new way to travel discovering the italian countryside avoiding the five stars full optional resorts. The book, called ‘Dormire nell’orto’ (sleeping in The gardeng) makes a list of around a hundred places such smallholding, mostly organic and biodinamic, run on family basis, where travellers can spend The night, have a meal and an insight of The farm life. Travellers will have Time for knowing their hosts, they will be introducted to local traditions and to other farms in The area discovering a network of Human relations based on care for people, food, traditions and environment. Key players are the families and the individuals that live and work in the countryside and want to make a connection with travellers through overnight staying, food, and exchange of knowledge.

Guests at La Sentella

Guests at La Scentella

I already know a couple of places that should be included in This book. The first, which i visited some years ago, is called Cimbolello. It’s located in Città della Pieve, Umbria. They have two small flats in their property, Made respected green building materials and principles. The family living there is very friendly and welcoming, they show me The farm, what they do, gave advices about what to do in The surrounding area. I’ve already talked about them in an previous post. The second venue is called Scentella, in Le Marche, and I will dedicate a post to it later.
There’s also a third place I’d like to mention, that i still have to visit. It’s named Locanda di colle ombroso. It’s a small restaurant in Porano, Umbria, where the owner, who has a farm too, sells his own goods (pasta, jams, flour) and uses them and other ingredients from local farms in their recipes. I’ll order this book soon, hopefully to be part of this network of hosts in the future.

The Orchard

dicembre 2, 2014

The family orchard has to be renewed. Most of The fruit trees we’ve had so far have dried out and year after year we’re replacing the old trees with new ones. This year for example I’ve just transplanted three different cherrie trees, an apricot and a plum tree, two almond trees, a pomegranate, and a japanese fruit tree which is a mix between Apple and peer. I’ve dig a one cube metre pit each tree, then I mixed The soil with mature manure, and transplanted The trees, that are three years old.

Siesta by the pit

Siesta by the pit

The cherry trees

The cherry trees

Good luck!

Good luck!

The plum tree. it will take a while till the first jam!!

The plum tree. it will take a while till the first jam!!

Finally i fixed The tree in a vertical position with tutorials. I m a bit worry for The almond that has already flowers and leaves, because of The warm autumn. At this time of The year it should be inactive. It’ possible to transplant these trees everytime in The year, thanks to The pot. Someone says it’s better to do it in autumn instead of spring cause The tree has time to adapt to The soil. Last year i transplanted other plants, but they were one year old and with nude roots. It takes one year more to Give fruits, but they might grow easier after transplanting.

Seeds

novembre 22, 2014

Today i’ve been to Treia, at ‘La talea’ for attending a meeting about organic and biodinamic seeds hold by Sativa Rheinau, a swiss company leader in this field. The conference was really interesting indeed.
The foreword was that it’s impossible to have a high quality food without high quality seeds. Baring it in mind, we went to discover the Sativa company, created in 1999 by Amadeus Zschunke in Rheinau, Swizterland. Sativa makes, trades and selects seeds of vegetables, cereals, mais, aromatics, flowers for organic and biodinamic market.

The conference

The conference

We saw what activities Sativa has got in Italy, collaborating with stores and local farms for breeding and producing seeds. We were told Italy is a leader for seeds production and Le MArche is the second region for it.
Sativa works, for example, with Ecor Naturasi, with farms such as La Collina (Reggio Emilia), La Colombaia (Capua), Di Vaira (Termoli). More close, in Ascoli Piceno, there’s Caspar Vrensen.

After this introduction to La Sativa, we went on looking at the actual situation for seeds market, considering that even organic seeds are often treated with CMS process and crossbreeding. CMS above can be considered very close to OGM process. Demeter certified seeds are better cause there are more restricted rules to get the certificate.
Also, between 50% and 70% of both organic and conventional deeds are made by Monsanto and Syngenta with a high concentration of control on seeds on few company and threat to biodiversity, cause 98% of cereals and vegetables varieties are lost since the beginning of XX century, and 20 plant species give 95% of calorie for humanity with 50% of it made by rice, mais and wheat.

In this scenario operate Sativa, with the aim of work on ancient varieties and adapt them with natural selections to the needs of modern agricolture.
Finally we were told about a new ceertification, called Bioverita, created by Sativa, which goes further than the organic one, and guarantees that the process of farming is sustainable, healty and natural beginning from the seeds.

Lunch time

Lunch time

The morning section, as always happenes at La Talea, ended with a vegetarian lunch where partecipants had the chance to taste what is grown by La Talea and by the other producers involved in the “Vivi la tua terra” Network, which is a group of regional, organic or biodinamic enterprises that collaborates to promote locally their products.

Modern times

novembre 22, 2014

What has taken me here? A strong passion for farming? Not really. Or at least, not only that. I think I’m the average out come of this time made of Vandana Shiva, Carlo Petrini and his Slow Food movement. Serge Latouche and Maurizio Pallantd with their degrowth theory, E.F.Schumacher’s Small is beautiful concept, Fukuoka with The permaculture movement and The following transition movement by Rob Hopkins, based on resilience, pick oil and climate changes. A time Made of Hemilia Hazelip sinergic experiment for gardening, The Club of Rome with The foundamental limits to growth, Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen with their study about The measurement of economic performance and social progress. A world Made by organic agricolture and WWOOF, eco and sustainable tourism, ethic finance and alternative currency, food miles, vegan and vegetarian diets, and The belief that another world is possible if everyone starts to be The change that wants to see in The world, acting locally and thinking globally.

San Martino walk

novembre 20, 2014

Every year for San Martino two local associations, Marsia a 360′ and Radici senza terra, organize The walk of San Martino, an easy walk in The mountain around Roccafluvione, which is a small town in The Sibillini Mountains area. The meeting point was at The nice san Martino and Giovanni church in Osoli village. We got there early And we had The chance to meet a local artist, Stefano Tamburrini, who Made a painting of San Martino and donated it to The Curch that really morning. Thieves had recently stolen pretty much everything valueble in The church and The idea was to donate this painting to decorate at least The wall behind The altar.

Stefano Tamburrino Painting

Stefano Tamburrino Painting

Before The beginning of the walk I had The chance to know something about that area, where people used to live from agricolture, chestnuts and truffles. Nowdays only truffles remains, cause agricolture has been abandoned and chestnuts have to face a dangerous parasite that is ruining many trees. The area is at risk of loosing its vitality and The way to contrast this process is to organize events that might Bring here visitors from The surrounding. And from this point of view The walk was a successfull example of what is needed here. The group of around fifty people of all ages departed at 11.00 and started to walk passing by Pesaturo, Pescolla, Cava, Stabino, through easy paths in the wood, where we met even a really si ngular small church.

On the way

On the way

The view was amazing, both to The Sibillini National Park and The adriatic sea, thanks to a beautiful warm and clear day.

looking at the Sibillini

looking at the Sibillini

After three hours we reached the organizer’s house, settled to host parties since there’s a nice garden, BBQ, a bar. There we enjoied some more food and drink, and even some traditional music.

At Campetto dei pini

At Campetto dei pini

Everything was so pleasant that i’m already looking forward for partecipating at The next edition, even if i think i might go there earlier in the spring to spend a couple of night in their caravan rented for The summer months…

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…we’ll see!!

Hemp Party

novembre 19, 2014

At The beginning of november i was invited at a party organized by Madonna delle Api, an organic farm in Osimo and dedicated to hemp. At least, that is what i was told, even if i didn’t find anything there that recalls this crop so fashion at The moment in Italy. The farm is along one of The main local road, you can see it thanks to a green caravan that is The place where they sell their products.

Madonna delle api "shop"

Madonna delle api “shop”

Once there, I first had The chance to meet The farm’s owner, a couple about my age, with their kids. The main reason I went there was because there was a meeting to create a local group to promote actions inspired to The Genuino Clandestino movement. This is an Italian movement born some years ago to promote small scale agricolture, to help people access to land, and to Push goverment for changing laws about agricoltures and The sales of small farms products. The meeting was a success, and a group decided to keep on working to start a local farmer market and to look for land in The area nearby.
The party went on after The meeting with a small market where you could find wine, soap, olive oil from The surrounding, products made from aloe. It was an interesting chance to meet a couple of farmers I’d like to visit as soon as possible.

The market under the polytunnel

The market under the polytunnel

In the evening some good acoustic music, pizza, drinks, and a beautiful show to tell The problem related with bees and pesticides closed the day.

The "nomad" pizza maker

The “nomad” pizza maker

Everything was taken under a cool large politunnel, with straw bale and a fascinating country ambient.

Regional Permaculture

novembre 19, 2014

On a sunny, still warm sunday of november i went to The first Le Marche permaculture gathering in Pianello di Ostra. The aim of The gathering was to create in this region a group of people interested and involved in permaculture, Being inspired by other similar experience in Italy. The location of The meeting was a local ecovillage property with included a pretty large house and five hectars of land that is going to be used appling permaculture principles. We arrived at ten in The morning and all The other partecipants came afterwords. With my surprise, The group was pretty large, Being around forty of us, from all around The region, and even further. There was no schedule and we decided to have a first chat introducing ourself and our knowledge of The concept of permaculture.

Getting to know each other

Getting to know each other

Then we had a walk to see The land where we were, with The Garden (both synergic and traditional), The orchard, with many cherry trees, and The rest that has to be used to plant olive trees and hedges and a food forest.

the view of the property

the view of the property

At The end of The walk we had a share meal with all sort of good food Made by each of us.

Getting ready for Lunch

Getting ready for Lunch

The lunch was another chance for more talks that ended with some greetings and departures and a visit to The main site of The ecovillage nearby, a community started quite long time ago that is growing and going on really well.
We left with The idea of organizing other gathering in different area of The region to see other projects and keep alive this network of people to share knowledge and skills.

Potatoes, onions and chickpeas

marzo 22, 2014

Last months were warmer than usual (I mean last fall, winter and current spring) and at the beginning of march, as soon as i ended pruning olive trees, I begun to plant potatoes, onions and chickpeas. First i bought 75 kg of potatoes, choosing three varieties: desirèe, monalisa and adora. I dig grooves every 60 cm, 15 cm dip, adding compost in them and then placing the potatoes every 30 cm and finally covering them with some soil. It’s a common practice to cut potetoes in half before planting them.

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Desirèe

Desirèe

Twenty days later I’m noticing the first potatoes appearing from under the soil.

For the onions i bought around two thousand plants of red and yellow varieties, which i transplanted in lines distant 30 cm, leaving 20 cm between each plant. Every 4 lines i left space to walk.

Finally, this year for the first time, I decided to grow some chickpeas, just a kilo, to get it a try. I dig little holes every 30 cm, leaving 50 cm between the lines. I placed compost in the holes and then four or five chickpeas. This kind of plant is really convenient because doesn’t need any care, first of all concerning water. That’s due to its capacity to grow roots up to two meters deep.

Panta Rei

marzo 5, 2014

Finally I visited Panta Rei. I heard about it long time ago, I knew its website, and it was time to be there in person. I went there by chance, last sunday, because I was invited, since new years eve, to th eannual WWOOF meeting who’s been hold in Panta Rei for the third time by now, Just because itì’s the perfect venue for such a event. Panta Rei is in Passignano, in the hills by the Trasimeno Lake, among hundreds of olive trees, in a fascinating nature.

 

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With several hectars and buildings all made with natural materials (wood, Straw bale, clay) and greenbuilding technique, the place is an ongoing building site which works as a centre for sustainable practices, not just linked with architecture and building.

The main building is divided in a large dining room ad the kitchen next door, with a large room used for conferences and courses of many kind. Also, there are several buildings used by residents, another one with rooms for guests, and finally another building, which i didn’t see, use as a laboratory for schools. 

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Beside the buildings, there are two sites for water herbal purification, and a quite large garden grown with the Emilia Hazelip methods.

In the morning, during my visit, I joined an interesting conference held by Gigi Manenti, a farmer from Biella, northern Italy, who introduced and shared his way of farming, an interesting one, based on few rules. For example, he doesnt fertilez the soil, and everything is based baring in mind the importance of some bacteria in the soil and their actions with the plant roots.

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Many people were present, both wwoof host and volunteers, form Italy and foregners as well. There was a small market with local farmers. 

I haven’t spent much time there, but it was enough to enjoy the place, the people, and for understading the importance to have a place like this in Italy, and the lucky to have it not too far from my hometown. 

If you want to have a look at Panta Rei website, here it is the link

http://www.pantarei-cea.it/