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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.

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.

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.

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/

 

 

Olive oil

febbraio 25, 2014

Let’s spend few words on olive oil, on what i know about it, and the work behind it. Beginning from the latter, and from the present, I can say that I’ve just finished to prune my olive trees (they are about a hundred) . I’m very slow in pruning, cause I’ve got no experience, and it took me almost three weeks to do the job, almost the whole february. So far I pruned the olive trees in march or april, but this winter was so warm that i could anticipate the job a lot, working in really nice and sunny day. I learnt how to prune with a friend of mine’s uncle, who came to help me for some years. Then, last year I tried to do it by myself, it was an epic job, I thought I couldn’t do it, but i did, and we had a great harvest, with 15 q.li of olives. There are courses to learn the proper way to prune the olive trees, one is held byASSAM, another one by a local school for agricolture, I’ll go to the latter. At the end of february, and in march, you have to fertilaze the trees. This help the trees themself. To help the fruit, in this case olives, you can also fertilize in may or june. the harvest,

More Organic gardening

febbraio 23, 2014

Almost two years have already passed since the last post, and an up to date is needed. About two years without a proper job so far, still I’ve worked more then ever. Beginning with the small family garden, I added an extra garden for few extra crops and then, last year in april, I decided to work on a larger garden and try to grow vegetables to sell locally in order to begin a proper business in the next couple of years, if I see I can get enough money from farming. I started last spring growing tomatoes and beans, onions, garlic and melon, with different outcomes. Beans, for example, were superb, melon just a shame. I started to look for customers, aiming to reach a number of up to fifty families which I should be able to find soon mainly by word of mouth. After that first season I tried to expand the garden even more working for the winter crop in a three thousand square meters garden growing several kind of lettuce, fennels, cabbages, chicory, chard, cauliflower. I transplanted all these vegetables between mid august and october, selling it between november and february. It was an interesting try, since i saw what people like the best, and what they don’t eat almost at all. Also enriched by this experience I’ll be able to grow better variety and amount of vegetables the next year.

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Winter garden in november

There were some difficult moments along the way, when i was afraid not to be able to settle the field in the proper way for the winter season, finding manure, water and other needs. I worked three weeks with no days off at all, from the early morning till night, but I’m still on board, stubborn more then ever, and a one hectare garden is ready to be used. Right now I’m busy pruning olives trees, while I’ve already pruned the fruit trees, with the desire to plant at least ten more of them, replacing the ones which died recently. Then, it will be time to plant potatoes, onions, and all the summer crops such as tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and so on.

The moon

maggio 12, 2012

I found out how ancient beliefe are still radicated in our modern society. Many poeple know and believe about the influence of the moon on vegetables grow and other crops in general. I had some difficulties to understand the way it works, I also found someone who doesn’t believe at all and laugh at the moon subject, and in the end, I planted my running beans with no care about it. 

I also sowed a handfull of mixed seeds in the only raised bads I’ve got with no boards: radish, spinach, carrots, beetroots, chicory. Also, a copule of basils plants on the same raising bed. It’s an experiment to me, I’ve never done something like it, something so close to a sinergic garden.

I’ve also Had Stefano here to plant his own piece of garden. I hope to collaborate with him in th next year. Having people here to work th eland and to enjoy the place, share the oven in a community style is a aim of mine, beginning with friends and the GAS member.

For the first time I’m taking care about the orchard, and I think this is a good news. I mowed the grass and now the fruit trees look much better, have much air, which is good in a part of the year which is going soon to be hot. 

I want a map of my garden, and of my orchard.