On Friday, the 15 of October, Food Studies Masters students journeyed into Rieti, about two hours north of Rome, to visit Azienda Agricola Tularù, where Miguel and Alessandra have created a haven of community-based regenerative agriculture practices to promote sustainability and encourage a return to traditional, social farming values. Pulling on their creative arts background, the two saw an opportunity to reimagine production methods for communal benefit when they inherited this plot of family-owned land. The deeply human nature of their work would be impossible to recreate via industrial processes or mechanization.
The focus of their production lies in wheat. They spoke eagerly about the Rieti variety, which is native to the region. Miguel detailed with enthusiasm the history of its development, use, and nutritional benefits. Illustrative of their agricultural philosophy, they depend upon rotational grazing—effectively alternating cows and chickens on different sectors of the land—as an organic fertilizing method to utilize the natural benefits of grazing and manure. Beyond livestock, the couple grows legumes for intercropping to facilitate wheat growth, given the nitrogen benefits that they release into the soil.
Sustainable energy sources form a cornerstone of their farming techniques, as the azienda relies heavily on solar panels, a home bio-gas system, and thermal compost to heat their water. Most recently, they have even introduced thermal toilets.
The social mission of the farm emerged, often subtly or implicitly, throughout the entire visit. The emphasis on inclusivity and community engagement reaches even the harvesting stage of their wheat, as members from surrounding areas are invited to participate in the process and offered annual discounts on bread products as a form of incentive and exchange. Social gastronomy, a distinct component of their community emphasis, plays into the culinary branch of the business, whereby chefs seeking to explore new techniques have passed through the kitchen to experiment with fermentation or low-heat cooking.
Over a lovely meal featuring fresh produce and their homegrown wheat in the breads and pasta, Miguel’s joy in witnessing the translation of his goods into beautiful plates of food was evident— the result of a truly circular farming system. The nature of growing and eating in community is emblematic of the social farming values they embrace. He shared his final thoughts with the group by testifying that “We are regenerating the soil… and we are regenerating society.”
Graduate Student Assistant