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Farming in Piemonte

My Scholarship entry - A local encounter that changed my life

WORLDWIDE | Wednesday, 18 April 2012 | Views [187] | Scholarship Entry

I push the button on my headlamp and its beam lights the face of Alessandro in the morning darkness. It’s 4:45 am. He hands me a bucket and knife and proceeds off with his own to harvest zucchini and zucchini flowers from several long rows of plants. Twenty minutes later, we load 4 buckets of fresh zucchini and flowers into the back of a cargo van filled with fruits and vegetables harvested in previous days: lettuce, onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, hazelnuts...The car was completely filled with fresh, organic produce ready for market day in the northern Italian commune of Acqui Terme.

After nearly three weeks on Il Cuore Verde – the “Green Heart” – organic farm, I had the chance to accompany the co-owner, Alessandro, to the local town’s market. We arrived at the market and quickly unloaded all of the crates of food and set up our stand and equipment. The marketplace was buzzing with other farmers and vendors arriving and organizing their goods for the day. Many other farmers from around the region arrived, greeting Alessandro and me before organizing their own stands.
Before long, local shoppers were strolling the marketplace, buying breads and fresh cheeses. Our stand was overflowing with piles of produce. The colors and smells were incredible.

Our stand was busy the entire day. While at first I was a bit uncomfortable taking initiative, I quickly came to enjoy the encounters and used each to interact and learn. By having the opportunity to sell produce that I had just helped to harvest to local Italians, I was able to experience involvement at every level of the local food production system. Although I spoke only broken Italian, their interactions and expressions made me smile with joy and filled me with a sense of being a part of a local community.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2012

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