There is a way of saying in Italian about the country works, which states ‘the garden needs a dead tired man’ and, indeed, there is nothing more true than that. It’s not just a matter of efforts, energies, equipment, an organic farmer fights against nature in order to favor it. The climatic change, pollution, globalization among the biggest enemies. Nature reacts in the worse effective ways, with fungus, harmful insects, droughts or floods and men have to contrast them in order to make nature flourish, bring fruits and grow.
Today, many young people if not highly skilled managers go back to the farmland and dedicate themselves to the organic cultivation rather than to the modern careers, in search of a more authentic contact with nature and life. Soon after rejoicing for their brand new reconciliation with slow-living attitudes, they realize that nature never sleeps and is continuously seeking for affection and cures.
Olive trees are ancient plants that can survive for hundreds years to the most various events and bear the signs of their pain in the tangled twist of their branches and trunks. They can bend, but not break and their pride is all preserved in the just-pressed olive oil drops. Last year, most of olive trees plantations in Italy did not survive to humidity and flies, henceforth producing any yield. This was a disaster not only for this important economic sector in Italy, but also for hundreds producers that saw all their efforts and commitments blow away.
Some of them give up soon, some have a sneak peak and turn away, once they become aware of the quantity of time and investments they need to commit themselves to, but some of them get day by day more involved in and focused on their goals, even though nature puts hurdles and makes things harder.
I am talking about Matthew, who left London, with Master of Business Administration and a project manager career in the yacht building sector, to move to Tuscany and then Sicily to cultivate olive oil; Laura from England helps her husband Marco to run a wine making company in Montalcino; Alina, who took the reins of a farm in Umbria, which had been grown by her father brick by brick; Elena, whose forebears date back to the Middle ages, and is the only woman of the family who fell in love with her father’s vineyards in Montecarlo near Lucca and is by far more determined than her male colleagues; Cristina, who funded an association to protect the unique native plants of Quercetano olive trees in Northern Tuscany and turned down any harvest last year in return of tranquillity for the plants and quality of their products; Caterina, who alternates her profession as architect to the fatigable work in vineyards in the heart of Tuscany.
Remember their names and experiences when selecting the good organic products, thinking that their choices were driven by passion and love for nature first and life secondly. Olive oil and wine can be of the most various tastes, brands, origins, lands, but they will always bear the stamp of those who worked hard and worried for any missed drop of rain, died bulb or leaf, dried fruit.
So when I think of travelling around Tuscany and Italy, I’d rather search for this affectionate farmers and long for tasting their products and dream for a moment of a sustainable economy, where food is produced in the right quantities and according to human equality values, respectful of nature and life, where flavors are authentic and genuine.