First-year students of the three-year undergraduate degree program tour Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy and Emilia

After hearing Italian Minister of Agriculture Mario Catania’s lectio magistralis on the European Common Agricultural Policy, from May 7 to 11, 63 students on the UNISG three-year undergraduate degree program, divided into nine groups, took part in a series of thematic journeys devoted to animal and vegetable products.

One group concentrated on typical Piedmontese products, especially the Piedmontese cow, the Capriglio pepper, flours, cured meats, wine, fruit, vegetables and corn. The students visited the provinces of Asti, Alessandria and Cuneo. At the plant of La Granda, specialized in quality Piedmontese meat, they were treated to a lecture on the Piedmontese cow, and in the fields and plants of the ASPROFRUT, ORTOFRUTTA, Cascina Piola, Lorenzo Crivello and Cà Veja, they found out more about the Capriglio pepper. They then visited the Valli Unite cooperative near Tortona, specialized in sustainable wine and food production, the experimental fields of the FRUILOGICO project on the comparison of bread wheat varieties, the Malvirà winery in the Roero district and the organic Garlic Consortium in Caraglio. After devoting a day’s study to the Cervere leek, including a tour of the fields, the students went on to visit the Cooperativa Nord Ovest plant in Peveragno.

A second group travelled to the area round Mondovì, in the province of Cuneo, to explore milk and its by-products. The tour included guided visits and tastings at the Occelli dairy, the Caseificio Valle Josina dairy and the Cascina Il Finocchio Verde farm. The group also saw the bread-making process at the Cascina La Commedia farm.

A third group travelled to the area round Roccaverano, in the province of Asti, to find out more about the production of Robiola DOP cheese. It visited the following farms and dairies: Azienda Casa Grossa, l’Azienda Agricola La Masca, Azienda Agricola biologica Agrilanga and Luisella Cavallero. It also visited Antico Opificio Toccasana Negro, the Borgo Maragliano winery and Forteto della Luja wineries, the WWF nature reserve, the Cascina Rosso farm and the Torronificio Faccio di Cassinasco nougat factory.

A fourth group went to the Val di Vara, in the Lunigiana area of Liguria, to visit local farms specialized in breeding buffaloes and the Val di Vara black cock and in growing the Torza bean. Students then moved on to Val d’Aveto, inland from Genoa, where they visited the Regional Nature Park and attended a lecture on synergic relations between the local producers and the park authority. They also visited the Capannina Cow Presidium at the Azienda Agricola Petramartina Rezzoaglio farm and the Mulino di Gramizza mill, a virtuous example of a family run agricultural supply chain which avoids wasting energy electrical energy, and Lame Lake, the area round which is famous for the artisan production of cured meats, the Zerli onion and the Quarantina potato.

A fifth group travelled to Lombardy to visit a number of organic, cattle, goat and dairy farms, including: Cascina Bagaggera, Cascina Forestina, Cascina Resta, Cascina Gaggioli, Cascine Orsine and Cascina Burattana. The students also had the opportunity to visit the Oasi Galbusera Bianca nature reserve and the Kapuziner Am Kanal brewery, and to meet Michele Baio, head of the Lombardy section of the Italian National Association for Biodynamic Agriculture.

A sixth group travelled to Cremona, where the students attended a lecture at Syngenta, a leading player in world agroindustry committed to the development of sustainable agriculture. They also visited the Biogas plant at the Rivolta company, the Fortuna family pig farm, the Lago Scuro dairy, the Iris Bio farm, specialized in livestock breeding and organic agriculture, the Molino Serragli flour mill and the offices of the Cucina Italiana magazine.

A seventh group explored the Cremona area with special reference to animal and vegetable production, attending a meeting with the Slow Food Cremona convivium on the protection of the land from the invasion of bioenergy businesses, and visiting the Azienda Agricola Brugnole farm, equipped with a virtuous plant for pig breeding and photovoltaic energy, the Rinaldi brothers’ Eurasia, a benchmark company for biogas industrialists, Agrigreen, the virtuous plant of the Lanfredi-Acquanegra Cremonese company and the Lagoscuro dairy farm, equipped with a photovoltaic plant, where the cattle are allowed to roam freely.

The eighth group took part in Cibus, the international food fair, in Modena, where they visited the Salumificio San Vitale stand for a meeting on Modena ham. The students went on to visit other farms and cured meat producers in the province of Modena, such as Salumificio F.lli Guerzoni, the Agricola Cà Lumavo farm and the Fattoria Ballarana farm. Finally, they were treated to a beer tasting at the Fusorari restaurant and a pastry making demonstration at the La Lanterna di Diogene restaurant.

The ninth and last group visited the area where Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is made. Here they were able to find out about the various stages in production, from milk to wheel to aging, and to taste local produce at the Caseificio Pieve Roffeno and Caseificio Dismano dairies. They also visited medium- and large-scale livestock farms, some traditional, others run with a unified system. Finally, at the offices of the Consorzio Terre di Montagna, a mountain produce consortium, students took part in an information exchange on the consortium’s role and the peculiarity of its supply chain.