There’s a saying in Sicilian dialect: “Curri quanto voi che cà ti aspetto,” which translates to: Run as fast as you’d like, I’ll be waiting for you here. Sometimes I imagine that this is what the Earth might think when observing the actions of humans.

The word for organic in Italian is biologico, which originates from the Greek word bios (life) and logia (a discussion or study). Therefore….let’s discuss bios….

However, to speak about organic agriculture is not a simple task for many reasons. It’s a philosophy….it’s a life system.

Organic is a very delicate concept and very broad. It does not only indicate the omission of chemicals or of pesticides.

In Nature, everything is bios, everything is life, a life in equilibrium and perfection….but then, man’s intervention comes into play and that equilibrium is broken, and there are major consequences in the present, and especially for the future generations.

I don’t believe that we can recuperate the damages that we’ve done to the Earth or to stop the deadly mechanism that humans have created in order to live and to do so in comfort, but at least we shouldn’t contribute to its death. Each and every farmer, teacher, doctor, etc. has his or her role to play.

The discussion about organic in my opinion, needs to be analyzed on two separate levels: that which we see, touch and do; and that which we can’t see, can’t touch and don’t do.

We observe an immense tree and admire her green leaf tips. We touch her trunk, her branches and her leaves. But underneath them, in silence are her hidden roots. How do we know if they are healthy. To see green leaves and a radiant tree does not necessarily signify a healthy root, similar to a man who smiles with his lips while his inner spirit is suffering. What we observe and touch is not always as important as what we can’t see and feel.

Primavera a Montoni
What we see/feel/touch:

  • We practice crop rotation on our lands so that we can clean the earth from the infestation of weeds and so that we can fertilize the soil with nitrogen that is absorbed from the atmosphere through plants such as fava, pea and honeysuckle….this is nature’s miracle….God thought about everything and for everything….
  • We fertilize the soil with manure.
  • We fertilize the soil with wood branches and twigs that remain after we prune our vines.
  • We do not use any chemical fertilizers or weed killers.
  • We use natural sulfur to protect the grape clusters from disease and/or mold.
  • Our wine is produced exclusively from healthy grapes in order to produce wines with extremely low levels of sulfites.
  • We use light-weight glass bottles to preserve Co2, both in the production of the bottles and in their transportation.
  • We use renewable sources of energy.
  • We use the wind and sun as two fundamental humidity-drying “machines,” because moisture otherwise promotes the growth of mold and disease.
  • I prefer to see the vineyard somewhat “disorganized,” in such that the crown tips of the vines should be free to express themselves, not cut back or groomed.
  • Around the vines, we allow wild vegetables, herbs and flowers to grow freely. We intervene with our hoe only to remove infesting “bad” weeds.
  • And much much more….

How to approach what you can’t see, feel or touch:

As I mentioned above, “biologico” (organic) has its origins in the word “life.” I don’t want to give life only to what we can see, touch or feel. I refuse to leave room for hypocrisy, by merely bringing life to the land and nature that is visible with the human eye. I desire and must also give life to the people of the territory, and to love like crazy my land, saving it from oblivion and abandonment. I strive to respect the people of the land and honor our agricultural community at large, including the sweat and hard-work that the country requires. Life in my world is living in the countryside, rather then running from it, and not to elude oneself that the so-called civilized world or city produces an apparent well-being.

In Italy, masses of people after WWII left their farmland behind, emigrating to the city, believing promises that city-life would bring wealth, comfort, freedom, work, hygiene, food, safety and a series of civil services. All I see from such migration is a physical cleanliness, but surely not mental or spiritual health. I don’t see the benefits of promised work or financial freedom, as there is only more to spend and a certain style of life that is conditioned based on social norms. I don’t see more food, other than colorful cans full of propaganda coming straight from industries and produced with ingredients that I’m not familiar with and by farmers who I will never have the chance to meet.

Above all, in the apparent civil and developed areas, I don’t see happiness of the soul, which slowly dies out….I don’t see Bios.

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