A Day at The Rosso Rapa Organic Farm, in Italy.
Ever thought about the journey of your jam from farm-to-jar? Well, I just had the pleasure of tracing my products right back to the patch where they were picked, at the Rosso Rapa Organic Family-run farm at Villaretta, Lombardy; where I was honoured to be given a tour by the Family and the Farm staff preparing my newest delivery from Rosso Rapa.
The Lombardic countryside is unspeakably beautiful; the sunshine is terrific and the climate, temperate. It not only makes humans happy, but it makes the harvests heave from their branches and keeps cows happy, too.
The Rosso Rapa Organic farm, is not just special because it’s completely soil association certified Organic, maintaining time-old traditions, like hand sowing seeds and picking all produce for optimum quality by hand, its 3rd generation farmer and head of the family; Gianluca also enlists high tech help to keep things running.
Yes, there are also robots.
Don’t worry, the modernity of the Rosso Rapa organic farm vs traditional organic farming practises used, means it’s every bit the charming pastoral Italian idyll, I’d imagined. Nestled off of a winding open road that snakes between lush green corn fields, it’s set back a little by a beautiful imposing wrought iron gate. Surprisingly, the imposing iron gate opens automatically and this is just the start of the ingenious way the farm is run part automatically by futuristic machinery. Behind the gate is a beautiful ochre yellow farm house with a traditional terracotta tiled roof.
The first thing that greets you when you arrive on the farm is the smell of farm, but I can’t get enough of it. It smells…healthy, natural. Rich, green and Earthy. What also helps, is an abundance of Jasmine cascading over the eaves of the building, its sweet perfume hangs in the air.
The warm and generous workers at the farm, show me around the veggie patches, the current season’s offerings are an abundance of crunchy, fresh and peppery ‘Rosso Rapa’ (that’s red radish of course), rows of sweet Beetroots getting plump in the sun, there’s also strikingly dark and intense looking varieties of Cavolo Nero.
Peaches and plums ripening on the trees, aren’t quite in season yet, hanging like little gifts fattening up in the sun and of course there are no nasty chemicals used to improve yields. No frightening signs of pesticides, of course.
Everything is grown to strict biodynamic boundaries.
It’s something Gianluca is incredibly passionate about and it hasn’t been an easy feat, so he’s immensely proud of what they’ve achieved and is very excited to share it.
It’s no wonder Pietro Leemann, Italy’s only Michelin starred vegan/ vegetarian rockstar restauranteur, founder of Joia Alta Cucina Vegetariana in Milan, is now collaborating with Rosso Rapa.
His selection process is rigorous; he, a self-proclaimed ‘perfectionist’, is respectful of the Earth and strives to recreate a ‘relationship with nature [whilst] respecting the person who cultivates it’.
Each of Leemann’s culinary creations ‘represent an idea linked to the seasons’ and that’s just how Gianluca grows. He doesn’t let demand for produce dictate this.
Both Pietro and Gianluca have a ‘renewed approach to nature, no longer bend[ing it] to their will’ whether with industrial chemical farming, or by adulterating natural flavours; instead, their approach is to understand and adapt to nature, “giving it back its role of mother [nature]”.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to get in line to wait for a place at the Joia table to experience the joy of seasonal, authentic Italian flavours from the Rossa Rapa Organic farm, Gianluca magically transforms seasonal produce into preserves, soups and sauces in less than 24 hours. Sealing in all the taste that the sunshine bestows, keeping in the love and passion of generations of farmers and offers the intense experience of true Italian; fresh almost just picked flavours, without any questionable ingredients like preservatives. Perhaps only a pinch of pepper and salt is all.
Seasonality, is really key. As the saying goes: ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, but we’ve become accustomed to accessible produce at any time, we’re not only not enjoying eating food at it’s seasonal best. Gone are the days when the average person had an understanding of when peaches are in season. We've surely, somewhat lost a respect for produce, especially when we can get it all year round even if it’s unappetisingly out-of-season.
So, it means waiting. Earning that delicious juicy fruitiness when picked at the right time and with every personalised delivery of Rosso Rapa produce prepared, Gianluca shares with you his inherent respect for the perfect point when produce reaches perfection.
My personalised products that arrived were certainly perfect, and also hot off the press, as one of the lovely touches that the Rosso Rapa team have thought of, is personalising the packaging. So my peach Jam as ordered, was freshly printed with my name ready for collection.
Since my visit, whenever I’ve tasted the Rosso Rapa sweet peach spread on my morning toast or the cool nectarine nectar fresh from the Rosso Rapa Organic farm, I not only feel full and happy. I feel full of the sunshine, full of the integrity that this delicious nutrition should have and I completely taste all that the Good Life has to offer in getting it to me.