Seasonality dictates the timing of production, as well as weather conditions. This somehow allows to understand the aspects and the difficulties of farming.
"The April 2021 frosts destroyed all of our cherry production. Therefore, we will not be able to make our cherry jam. Instead, we will have a lot of other types of fruit, including peaches, plums, apricots, figs, pears and wild blackberries. We planted late varieties of fruit in order to avoid frost damage," said Matteo Fiorentini and Sara Nunziati, owners of the Italian company Agricola Terrealsole.
In the photo: Sara Nunziati and Matteo Fiorentini, owners of the Tuscan farm Agricola Terrealsole
Agricola Terrealsole cultivates a wide range of vegetables and orchards that are mainly used for processing into pickles and sweet and sour vegetables, jams, preserves and nectars. The farm is located in Tuscany and owns four hectares of land in the municipality of Montespertoli (FI).
"Our idea of making jams dates back a long way. We have carried out many tests - and also thrown away a lot of fruit, because we were not satisfied with the result - in order to guarantee a product with an original taste but which is also safe and secure for consumption, which means it is controlled and guaranteed at every stage of production. We process fresh fruit to obtain nectars and jams of strawberries, apricots, peaches, plums, apples and pears, persimmons, wild blackberries, figs, cherries, but also citrus fruits enriched with elder, ginger and cinnamon or chocolate.
"The greatest reward is being able to retain customers, who are delighted to taste freshly picked fruit in a jar. We buy our citrus fruits from companies who are committed to ethic principles in their cultivation, and we choose fruit from a controlled supply chain in Sicily or Apulia, with edible skin”.
Our jams, nectars and marmalades use little sugar and no thickeners, which is why they are best spread with a teaspoon. The goal is to avoid long cooking, in order to preserve fibers, flavors and aromas of the fruit. Jams and marmalades are available in standard 230g jars as well as in 40g single-portion jars, which are particularly requested by the agritourism sector.
"We don't use certified organic farming, because the management costs are too high for a small, young company, but our agriculture is developed with absolute respect for the land, because of our love for nature. Because of our ethical commitment, we don't aim at yields, we don't use chemical fertilizers or weed killers and we don't use pesticides".
Thanks to an effective communication strategy, we are also creating awareness around the importance of quality and transformation processes. Specifically, Terrealsole processes fruit using particular cooking techniques and convection ovens. The latter, depending on the raw material and on what is being processed, can either use steam cooking or dry cooking, or combine the two methods. Convection oven is ventilated and allows a much more uniform cooking of the food, without burning it. Unlike traditional cooking ovens, it distributes heat.
"We also process all of our production on behalf of third parties, to value the products of the land. In such an inflated market segment, word-of-mouth works, but it is limited. This is to say that if we don't communicate effectively, we are out of the game, because the only choice criterion would then be based on the cheapest price".
Agricola Terrealsole's commercial channels are the small and medium distribution and the online shop successfully operative in the middle of the pandemic. In addition, the new retail store brand will focus mainly on the direct relationship with the consumer and on illustrating the importance of the short supply chain, which has its very own costs to guarantee the consumer a healthy and different product.