The A1, Italy’s major traffic artery, plows north from Rome, roughly following the Tiber River’s path into Umbria and beyond. The stretch between Rome and Florence is particularly busy. But near the Magliano Sabina exit, even just a short distance from the highway, the hum of diesel trucks subsides and gives way to the sound of rustling leaves, song birds and the occasional hunter’s shot. Oak trees climb the hills, providing a natural barrier to the smog and traffic below.
Back in December, I directed a rented Smart Car along the A1 to Le Spinose, a certified organic farm near Magliano Sabina. There, owner Antonella Deledda and her adopted family, Nepalese sherpas, go beyond the principles of organics and have embraced Alex Podolinsky‘s approach to biodynamic agriculture, one that eschews conventional farming techniques and chemical interventions, follows natural planting and growing cycles, and develops soil microbial activity, root growth and humus formation.
The results have been exceptional and Le Spinose’s produce has attracted the attention of local consumers (she supplies a number of families in Magliano Sabina), Gabriele Bonci and the Rome Sustainable Food Project; Le Spinose has begun planting new fields to supply the RSFP kitchen this year.
Antonella stopped by the RSFP earlier this month to share Alex Podolinsky’s methods with the program’s interns and to convert 2 of the garden’s 8 beds to biodynamic use.
The first step was preparing a natural fertilizer from concentrated cow manure, which was diluted in water, mixed by hand, then sprayed on the beds.
Next, one of the beds was planted with green manure (a cover crop to promote soil fertility).
The other was planted with lettuce and tomatoes.
The results of this biodynamic conversion will take two years to materialize, so stay tuned for updates! In the meantime, you can sample Le Spinose’s produce on Bonci’s pizzas at Pizzarium and at the RSFP at the American Academy in Rome (open to Friends of the Academy in Italy; join here).