"A fight against those who do not believe in clean and organic agriculture”
Antonella’s orchards are just outside the village of Rocca Imperiale, the first place you arrive at in the southern Italian region called Calabria. She grows organic apricots and lemons on thirteen hectares. As she puts it herself, Antonella was born under a lemon tree.
“I had the good fortune to be born and live here. It’s a virgin spot from the point of view of organic farming, where nature has not yet been ruined by human hands.”
Antonella was involved in the business from the age of seventeen, and she has always followed the example of her grandfather, an old-fashioned farmer who trusted the moon and the weather and used no chemicals at all. She has always been fascinated by that way of farming. Organic agriculture is a faith and a philosophy of life.
Antonella stands on the barricades against the use of artificial fertilizers and other chemicals and refuses to be discouraged by anything or anyone.
“Because when you choose to be a farmer you need to be brave. You have to be brave, to be resilient and to resist.”
"We must educate the consumer to eat good food. Because from good food comes human health."
Rocca Imperiale is known as the gateway to Calabria in southern Italy and has been declared one of the most beautiful villages in the whole country. It lies on the side of a mountain that has the imperial Castello Svevo at its peak. The village derives its nickname ‘The Tower of Babel’ from its similarity to the 1556 painting by Pieter Bruegel, or to one of the famous works of Escher, who was inspired by Calabrian villages in 1920.
As well as its cultural riches, the area with its microclimate is ideal for growing citrus fruits. Protected by hills to the west, north and south, it enjoys a mild sea breeze from the south-east.
One of the many varieties grown here is the famous Antico or Nostrano di Rocca Imperiale (Rocca Imperiale lemon), which has been given Indicazione Geografica Protetta (IGP) status. Lemon growing is a dominant part of the local landscape, which as a result is known as the ‘Terre dei Limoni di Rocca Imperiale’.
Ferdinando regards it as his mission to make the area around Rocca Imperiale, with its history, its villages and its cuisine, famous as a place composed of emotions. His farm covers thirty hectares and has produced the famous ‘Frederik’s Gold’ for four generations.
Ferdinando di Leo is one of the 1,300 proud inhabitants of Rocca Imperiale. He lived and worked in Rome for a long time, with a good job in financial services and a hectic existence. Slowly he felt a growing desire to return to the land of his ancestors, who had for generations grown the famous lemons named after the village. Nowadays he could be regarded as the most important ambassador for this part of Calabria, ‘land of lemons and poetry’.
We have selected another two stories that might inspire you.
Join us on this Journey through the World of Resilient Agriculture. You can help us to spread the word and get these stories out there. So follow us and share.
"Ciao, I am Pino"
"Do it for love or do it for money, but do it."
Agricola Santa Amalia
Can't have enough?
Return to the overview and make your choice in all stories.
Resilience Food Stories is a storytelling platform by Ruud Sies and Hanneke van Hintum in partnership with Koppert.
For the best viewing experience use landscape