Italy: First organic orchard at 1200 metres asl in Molise

An organic apple orchard 1200 metres above sea level. It would't be such incredible news had we been talking about Trentino or Alto Adige, but we are talking about Molise, where an entrepreneur planted 2.5 hectares in the Isernia province. "It's a gamble, especially since it's an organic orchard, but I'm confident things will go well. We harvested the first fruit in autumn, but we will have to wait for next October for a more consistent production," explains Fabio Sabelli.

Fabio Sabelli at the centre

Sabelli planted the Golden stark and Golden orange varieties. In other areas, they are usually harvested in mid-September but harvesting at 1200 metres asl is expected for mid-October.

The orchard over the past few days

"It will be a late fresh produce that will immediately be placed on the market. Some asked us to buy it directly from the trees, as is customary in the south, but we prefer to contact markets or wholesalers directly, as they will pay the fruit depending on quality and current prices."

Sabelli already grows red potatoes and late cherries. 5000 apple trees have been planted so far and 3000 more are expected for next year. The investment was also made possible by Regione Molise's 2014/2020 Rural Development Plan. 

Apple orchard a few months ago

"There are no apple orchards within 30 km and fruit cultivation is not common in the region. It's been a double gamble for us, as we had to create the entire chain. But, sometimes, being a pioneer pays off. We have chosen these two varieties because we feel they are the most suitable for this climate, therefore capable of producing fruit with high organoleptic qualities."

"Of course organic production scares me, as things would have been much easier with traditional cultivation. But our area is the land of organic production. There are no apple orchards in the area and I believe it will be easy to commercialise organic apples if we manage to get the message through. We are working hard to have the first consistent harvest in mid-October."

Publication date: 1/22/2018

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