Agroecology: our way of treating the earth.
The agro-ecology consists "in the application of ecological principles to the production of food, energy, fibers and drugs as well as to the management of agrosystems". We believe that there is a growing space for small agricultural activities like ours, which must not only be part of the landscape but must contribute to creating it and regenerating it, in an aesthetic and vital way. We work in this light and while we do it, we experiment to apply some of the many cultivation methods available to maintain and increase the vitality of the land, to improve the health of the plants and in general of the beings that inhabit our mini ecosystem. The following stripes illustrate some of the ways of applying the ethics of "care of the earth".
Crop protection through biodiversity
We do not use any type of insecticide or pesticide. We apply available strategies to create the most favorable conditions for the health of the life of the system such as:
the disorientation by means of the aromas and colors offered by the flowers inserted in the crops
the use of macerated and decoctions of herbs and plants
the creation of sites and shelters suitable for the reproduction or wintering of useful animals, favoring the establishment of antagonistic fauna, creating ecological niches that guarantee the survival of these species
the mixing of species / varieties, thus hampering the establishment of dominance by single species
Use of free animals for cleaning from weeds and elimination of pests
We do not breed animals, but we like very much the help of a small "army" of animals that, in seasonality limits and, compatibly with the needs of fruiting and harvesting, help us to control the grass, freeing the place from the wintering larvae and from mollusks in general. At the same time, animals help the mixing and distribution of organic matter and fertilize the soil with their droppings. Depending on the areas we use hens, geese and dwarf sheep.
We only practice natural horticulture, scrupulously respecting the cycles and rotations, using natural fertilizers, such as earthworm humus, pigeon guano deriving from the network of local amateurs and compost produced by ourselves. We practice minimal soil processing and use free animals to clean the residues and interrupt the cycles of the larvae and harmful insects. We try to integrate the vegetable gardens and orchards in the garden/orchard system.
In one of the small parcels of the property we are experimenting with a mini agroforestry system where between rows of fruit trees we grow small bush fruits, herbs and flowers, in synergistic association. These systems are typically larger in size, and it is interesting to experiment with this important methodology on a much smaller scale.
Mulching with natural materials and available locally
We make extensive use of mulching with natural materials, such as, mainly, grassy residues, straw and dry leaves, which increase the organic biomass and, above all, favor the life of terrestrial earthworms, which incessantly work the soil. Most mulching materials are supplied free of charge by a small local network of neighbors who have tree-lined parks and gardens to maintain.
Creation of margins and microclimatic effects
The starting agricultural context was that of a perfectly flat grassy lawn. We have therefore worked to give three-dimensionality and volume to the system, creating natural (or temporary) margins, to enhance beneficial micro-climate effects that allow us to maximize the use of space, thus creating opportunities to grow difficult varieties in specific niches, thus increasing biodiversity and production offer.
Composting and self-production of organic biomass
We can produce about 6 cubic meters a year of organic biomass in the form of compost and lombricompost, from grass clippings, dry leaves in autumn, pruning twigs and kitchen scraps, which are supplied to us by a small network of families in the surroundings, as well as ours.
Use of alternative animal fertilizers, locally sourced
We use very precious pigeon guano which is supplied to us free of charge by some members of the local pigeon amateurs group. Guano is among the best animal fertilizers. In addition to that we use the excrement of our chickens taking it directly from the hen house. Soon we will also equip ourselves with a compost toilet.