Producing sustainably works and it should be replicable all over the world.
Antonio Lo Franco, Fattoria La Vialla
In 1978, the parents of Antonio, Bandino and Gianni Lo Franco bought a rundown farmhouse south east of Florence and began to work the two hectares of land organically – without any chemical fertilisers or pesticides. The estate now has 600 hectares of farmland and 600 hectares of woodland, employs 130 people, and produces more than 60 organic food products including wine, olive oil, cheese, tomatoes and pasta.
This variety is a central principle of the biodynamic method of farming used at La Vialla. The different crops are rotated so that the soil remains healthy, and the farm is seen as a complete organism in which the earth, plants and animals have a holistic interrelationship. Every part of a product is utilised: the bran from wheat is fed back into the soil as compost; sheep manure is added to the earth in the vineyard, and so on.
"A wide variety of cultivation enriches the soil... and creates great environmental biodiversity." Alceo Orsini, Agronomist
Enriching the land with manure and other organic products also makes a positive contribu-tion to climate change, because carbon is fixed in the soil instead of being emitted into the atmosphere. Woodland management methods enable even more greenhouse gases to be stored.
The farm’s workshops all run on solar power from the estate’s photovoltaic array of 152 kilowatt peak. This produces an average of 167,200 kilowatt hours per year which is enough to meet all La Vialla’s energy requirements. Any surplus is passed on to the national grid.
All the food packaging materials are either recycled or FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified, in which the greenhouse gases emitted during the production process are offset through reforestation.
Finally, the farm produce is delivered directly to the consumer using GoGreen certified ship-ping, a scheme that contributes to Carbon Reduction Projects such as planting forests or investing in renewable energy plants.
When everything is added up, Fattoria La Vialla has a negative carbon footprint and each year stores nearly 2 million kg of CO2 equivalent.
Now that public concern about the environment is mounting, and consumers are increasingly demanding naturally grown, healthy food, the Lo Franco brothers are optimistic about the future for sustainable agriculture.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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