There was no April fooling when the M.A. Food Studies students visited Agricoltura Nuova on Monday, April 1, as part of their Sustainable Food Systems course. Located in the countryside between central Rome and Ostia beach, the agricultural cooperative was founded in the 1970s by young people to protect the land from urbanization and expansion of the building sector. Today, the grounds are bustling with a multi-functional farming activity, including animal farming (cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens), horticulture, hippotherapy, and educational workshops in weaving and cheese-, bread-, and pasta-making. The main vision of the cooperative is the one of closing the food chain for different products on farm, including local consumption with a restaurant and picnic area.

Fabrizio, the day’s guide, led the students through barns, greenhouses, and fields while describing Agricoltura Nuova’s steps in establishing a closed-loop farm. As the group walked past large piles of bread next to the pig pens, for instance, Fabrizio pointed to the animals munching on loaves and said the food had been donated by local restaurants. Agricoltura Nuova has always produced organic food because that was the level of quality that its farmers wanted their families to eat. However, the cooperative was only certified in 1992, once it had the legal recognition of their farming activity in public land required for inspection. Apart from ecological sustainability, the cooperative has a social conscious and adults with disabilities are member of the cooperative and are employed around the farm.

The afternoon concluded with lunch at the farm cafeteria, where students got to taste some of the cooperative’s products in various dishes. This sunny visit made a fitting final field trip for the 2018-19 Food Studies cohort, exploring another best practice of sustainable food production in Italy.

Author: Eva Reynolds