25 November 2006

"Frutto Permesso" The Permitted Fruit

Staying on a theme from the whole Slow Food/ Terre Madre experience.... We made a visit to Il Frutto Permesso while my nephew and niece where here.
In addition to my nephew being a full time artisan baker, the family has a small organic vegetable production operation, "Little Hands Organic Vegetables" which the whole family works together and and they also oversee their local community garden that is adjacent to their operation. Their young daughter is quite the experienced little hand, general organizer and trainer of people new to their little operation. She knows where all the tools are kept and helps identify some of the pesky pests that need to be persuaded that this isn't the right place for them. But I digress...

We took them to have a look around this wonderful cooperative, Il Frutto Permesso, just out of the mouth of our valley in Bibiana. What a welcome we received and a great tour during this busy time of the year. Dario took the time to show us all round their operation even though they were still in the thick of harvest time, and they were hosting 20 Ugandan farmers that evening for a tour of operations and dinner featuring their fabulous products. The original 4 families of the cooperative started in 1987 to meet the EU standards of certifiable organic and have picked up more farms and families during the ensuing years making a total of 12 farms. We continued our tour over to Michele's farm, where he has been in the apple business on this family land his whole life. I asked him how it was the first few years when they started to make the switch to organic. He said the first year was devastating as they didn't know enough about how to control the pests and they lost almost all of their crop. The next year improved as they got a handle on how to control the pests naturally. Now he says it's so rewarding to see his vigorous apples and other fruits flourishing again. The changes in the environment have been very rewarding also. It was contagious to see their genuine enthusiasm for their organic way of farming now.
Between the 12 farms all aspects of food production are covered from cereal, fruits and vegetables to animal husbandry. They make a wonderful line of juices , fruit and vegetables, cheeses, salamis and mush more. They have added a very far reaching education program mainly aimed at children from day trips to summer stays. They was a double decker busload of high spirited children there during our visit. Tomini production was well underway (a local ricotta style specialty) and a long line for the pony rides. It looked like some place I would have loved as a kid!
Well, come to think of it I wouldn't mind staying there and enjoying dinner as well.
That too is possible.

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