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Demeter Certification

 

Since it was established, in 1978, Fattoria La Vialla has always been organic. When Piero and Giuliana Lo Franco (the parents of the three brothers, Gianni, Antonio and Bandino, now “in charge”) took on the first fields and farmsteads of what is today the Fattoria, they didn’t think twice about what kind of agriculture they would follow: Grandmother Caterina had always cultivated the land using just natural manure and following the lunar calendar for pruning and sowing. More than a conscious decision, organic was an “instinct”.

The biodynamic horn manure

 

La Vialla, therefore, was organic before there was an official body to certify such things. It was in fact one of the first Italian farms to obtain certification when the AIAB (= Italian Association for Organic Agriculture) was established in 1983. For the biodynamic method, on the other hand, the decision was more “active”, pursued. At the beginning of the 90s we began to take more of an interested in this type of agriculture that, for us, as staunch “naturalists”, was just the next logical step: in fact, over the years, we have seen that the more one follows nature’s rhythm, the better the harvest is and the higher the quality. After 10 years of conversion, in 2005, La Vialla also obtained biodynamic certification. Currently, 590 hectares are cultivated with the biodynamic method and certified by Demeter.

 

Green manure and biodiversity in the vineyards
of La Vialla

This result is the fruit of years of work and of meticulous organisation of the entire, complex production chain, throughout the various production sectors at La Vialla (grapes-wine, olives-oil, sheep-milk-pecorino cheese, cereals-flour-biscuits/pasta, vegetables-sauces, etc.) which are closely linked, from cultivation, to production, to packaging.

 

This task of conversion is in constant development because it follows the Fattoria’s natural evolution: every year another field or piece of vineyard becomes “Viallino”, which means that – if it isn’t already so – it is converted to natural agriculture, initially to the organic method (a process that takes 3 years), then to the biodynamic one (another 2 years). Over the years more than 350 hectares have been converted!

 

There are however some products that still do not have the European leaf or the Demeter logo, for various reasons:

  • - Due to the “neo-organic/biodynamic” land: in order to increase its arable surface area, the Fattoria has bought or rents new land in the surrounding area (but also in Sicily and in the North, in the Oltrepò Pavese area). The new land is cultivated using biodynamic methods from day one, but 3 years must go by before obtaining Organic certification, and another 2 years are needed before it is possible to apply for Demeter certification and then be able to use the relevant logos. During this period of time (already organic, we wish to repeat!) the products are labelled with the specification “in conversione all’agricoltura biologica” (= in conversion to organic farming) . The products that come from land under conversion are, in any case, guaranteed by comprehensive analyses which exclude the presence of any type of chemical residue.
  • - Converting land to biodynamic agriculture is part of Fattoria La Vialla’s tenacious commitment, with the help of the Fondazione Lo Franco.
  • - Due to the ingredients: there are some (few… and constantly less) ingredients that are not produced directly by La Vialla and that, unfortunately, cannot be found (in suitable quantities) with Demeter certification on the Italian market. This is the case, for example, for the dried fruit and nuts used in the biscuits, or for some sauces due to the “extra ingredients” that cannot be found with Demeter certification (such as anchovies, capers, pepper, meat).

 

For other products the Fattoria has already managed to “bring home” biodynamic harvests that, before, were extremely rare:

  • - The Vernaccia D.O.C.G.: there aren’t many vineyards at San Gimignano, and the ones that there are, are highly sought-after. Seeing that La Vialla didn’t have its own vineyard in that area, for years the grapes for the Fattoria’s Vernaccia were looked after for us by a competent, reliable farmer…. They were certified as completely organic, but not biodynamic (despite our constant attempts of persuasion he wouldn’t let himself be convinced to convert to biodynamic methods). Since 2015 La Vialla can call a beautiful vineyard in that area “its own”, and we can therefore take steps to gain biodynamic certification.
  • - The raisins for the biscuits (and for a few sweet-sour sauces such as the Pesto al Finocchietto) were, for many years, impossible to find certified Demeter on the Italian market (we like to remain in our “native land” for the ingredients)… so since 2014, just 400 metres from the “Piazzetta”, we are growing little Vialline grapes, golden and... biodynamic!

 

We, the five family members, Piero, Giuliana, Gianni, Bandino and Antonio, have set ourselves the objective of obtaining Demeter certification for all our products (on the labels too) within 10 years.  During this period we will dedicate ourselves to resolving the issues mentioned above. With this aim, in 2010, we established the “Fondazione Famiglia Lo Franco”, our Foundation for the Conversion to Organic and Biodynamic Agriculture.

 

We will keep you updated!

 

With our very best wishes, Gianni, Antonio and Bandino Lo Franco

 

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