The Caramadre farm is located in the Agro Romano, within the National Reserve of the Coast and near the Macchia Grande Reserve of the WWF Natural Oasis. It includes two different areas:
• the former is located in Maccarese (7.5 hectares wide including 2 hectare of cold greenhouses) and it is the place of the wholesale and retail sale of the appropriately selected fruits and vegetables;
• the latter is placed in Torre in Pietra (13 hectares wide) and it consists of all organically cultivated fields. On the basis of the season, here, crops of several fruits and vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cabbage, summer melons, strawberries, salads, beets, etc) are planted.
According to the farmer Claudio Caramadre, the implementation of the organic farming methods means not making use of both GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and any chemically synthesized product; using only natural fertilizers (manure, minerals, compost) with no environmental impact; reducing drastically the field manipulation by means of the working only of the field surface in order to prevent the soil and the aquifers impoverishment.
The farm is located in Rome peri-urban area. This allows the farmer to sell his production by short food chain in different farmer markets of the city. For this reason, the main crops are in autumn and winter with intensive crop cycle and a high crop diversification. Tomato and zucchini are produced in greenhouse. The soil is sandy, with some clay in it and a presence of organic matter around 2%.
Concerning plant protection, the farmer is using neem panels to face nematodes which are the main problem of the area. Composting farm residues contributes in increasing soil fertility and in terms of biodiversity the farmer use, also, no hybrid and ancients varieties in his fields. Pine and eucalyptus, trees typical of the area, border the vegetable production. Their main role is to protect the crops from the wind.
The main problem identified by the advisory team in this farm is the lack of legume in crop rotation. In term of cash crop the only legume is fava bean. The farmer is testing the use of sudan grass for green manure. However, this results too aggressive and the advisory team proposes to introduce a mix of 50% barley and field bean in winter time. This technical solution do not have an economic feasibility according to the farmer, due to his market requirement for production in the winter time. Different options have been proposed by the advisory team to introduce a mix of legumes for green manure: a mix of legumes, the use of a mix of legumes associated with a sole legume crop (40/60%); and finally the combination of three legumes with a percentage of 35/15/50%. The main limit is to improve crop rotation without a significant loss of financial value, due to the market demand in urban area.
A possibility is to create synergy with weeds managements, as some weeds problems have been observed by advisors (portulaca, stellaria, chenopodium). Living mulch with trifolium could compensate the financial loss with higher yields of commercial crops due to reduced competition of weeds. The use of roller crimper in the living mulch will optimise the tillage system, the living mulch will increase biodiversity and soil bearings’capacity in case of intensive rains.
To learn more, please visit the farm’s website http://www.biocaramadre.it/
Special credit goes to Klaus-Peter Wilbois for the photographs published in this page.