I quit my studies, because I was seeing our land, the one I inherited from my grandfather and his forefathers, neglected. The century-old agricultural tradition of the area was dying, and, with it, our native biological species. So I decided to go back to cultivating the fields, which is a pretty unusual choice for my generation.
The comeback of Antonino to his agricultural family business –Il Giardino della Scala dei Turchi – was motivated by his determination in saving native ancient seeds from extinction.
Through this determination, he learnt the importance of preserving biodiversity, which applies to the rest of the agricultural business that he manages together with his brother.
Besides ancient seeds, they are cultivating also fruit and vegetable that aren’t water-hungry, like a local type of tomatoes called ‘siccagno’ for its dryness.
Dryland farming means low water and energy consumptions, but also going along with local landscapes, rather than radically changing them, as modern agriculture usually does.
This work is hard. Passion and determination are crucial. It wasn’t easy for me, especially at the beginning, but luckily I had plenty of enthusiasm – and I still have it. Making this choice required a lot of sacrifices from me, but I don’t regret it at all.
For the moment, I’m not innovating. I’m still looking to the past. I’m recovering our native ancient seeds to save them from extinction. I’m also learning from traditions: the old techniques of cultivation, the ones that were used when agriculture was still organic. I want to produce the same genuine foods that were cultivated in the past. And I’m learning how to do it – from my grandfather.
Antonino wants to innovate, though. He is planning to invest to make the business grow towards self-sufficiency and to install a solar panel system to use renewable energies.
Amongst their latest accomplished projects, instead, there is the establishment of the ‘Comunità Realmontese del Cibo’. This project aims at providing local restaurants with ingredients that are organic, genuine and grown with love.
Again, the biggest challenge was taking the first step. Now that restaurants have seen that customers are more aware and demand high-quality products, everything’s become easier and our network is growing.
Il Giardino della Scala dei Turchi is a Consumeless Companion because they preserve biodiversity through saving native ancient seeds from extinction and farming in the old, organic way.