A farm preserving the tradition of raising the old breeds of Chianina cows and cinta senese pigs. Since 1964, they have maintained close relationships with the farmland and their animals while investing in the future through sustainable energy practices. This unusual combination makes this farm a unique specimen worthwhile of a closer look.
by Rachel Tchen*
Fattoria Luchetti located in Collazzone, Province of Perugia is the descendent of a sharecropping farm that changed its course in 1964. In the past, sharecroppers in the region mostly cultivated tobacco, but they slowly switched over to raising animals as the years went on. In 1964 they were able to purchase the land from the landlord and start up Fattoria Luchetti. Starting with eight Chianina cows, it has transformed into one of the largest Chianina farms in central Italy. Though, at roughly 300 heads of Chianina, it is hardly an intensive endeavor.
The Chianina breed is historically important to central Italy. They were originally used to work in the fields. Now, they are raised for their meat, but the ties to the past remain. In addition to Chianina, Fattoria Luchetti sometimes also has cinta senese. The cinta senese pig originated during Etruscan times and is unique in the quality of meat due to its particular rearing conditions. From start to finish, the family raises these animals and sacrifices them to be sold in the butcher shop located right on the farm or in their macelleria located on Corso Cavour in Perugia. It is work for the devoted.
Fattoria Luchetti is a self-sustained energy producer. With the solar panels on the roof of their barns, they power the farm during the day. At night, they sell the excess energy to the municipality. They also take manure and other organic waste from agriculture and turn it into methane using their “big cow”. They burn this methane to produce electricity, which they sell to the national electric grid. The excess organic waste from this process goes back to the fields for fertilizer. The profits from these practices are used to be able to invest in more responsible practices for the cows.
Describing their biomethane machine, they said it is “like a big cow”. When you put in good materials, you get quality methane out. It seems like Fattoria Luchetti is one big cow as well. The family is dedicated to making healthy and sustainable investments for their farm in order to produce high quality products. In addition to sustainable energy, the investment goes further. They grow their own hay, barley, and corn for feed. Because of this, they know exactly what their cows are eating. Though it may not be the most efficient, they give their cows plenty of space to walk around. The combination of their diet and movement produces high quality meat with lovely fat distribution, although the meat is overall still quite lean.
The family also puts in a lot of time to care for the animals. They wake up at 5:30 every morning to feed and check on the animals. Then they go back again in the afternoon. This daily interaction with the cows creates a more personal relationship than you would ever find at a large-scale factory farm.
The work at Fattoria Luchetti is very much a family enterprise. From a very young age, each person in the family is surrounded by these daily practices. They learn them, and continue to work with these principles. All of the knowledge from birth to butcher is developed within the family. In this sense, Fattoria Luchetti has stayed with its roots in family farming. Despite all of their futuristic investments, Fattoria Luchetti is dedicated to maintaining a connection with the old ways of animal husbandry. They keep close and personal relationships with their animals. It is a farm that looks toward the future, while it maintains roots from the past.
Fattoria Luchetti puts good in, and they most definitely get good out. The farm is also an agriturismo. People can observe for themselves the workings at Fattoria Luchetti and enjoy the food while they are there. The great food provided at the agriturismo is not to be missed. For a light lunch, people can eat a wonderful antipasto, secondi, and contorni. The antipasto included nicely spiced salami, prosciutto salty and rich in taste, crostini with chicken liver, and pecorino. It is simple and flavorful. Each component brings its unique flavors to the antipasto for a well-rounded plate. The real star of the show is the roast beef with carrot and onion sauce. Cut in thin slices, the beef falls apart in the mouth. It is lean, but flavorful. Part of their process and expertise involves knowing which cuts are best for each method of cooking. Tasting the roast beef was evident of their success in this aspect. Soaking up the excess sauce with traditional salt-less bread is the perfect end to a meal. The simple style of cooking is not at all deterring. Instead, it allows the true flavors of the meat to show through.
A meal at the end of a tour of the farm completes the cycle. From growing feed to birth to table, it is evident that Fattoria Luchetti is devoted to putting good investments in, in order to get a great product out. A full and happy stomach after a visit to the farm is enough evidence to prove that.
*Questo articolo è il risultato della collaborazione tra SapereFood e Umbra Institute, filiale italiana di alcuni college e università statunitensi con sede a Perugia. Dopo un approfondimento sul settore agroalimentare e sullle tecniche di scrittura giornalistica, gli studenti di Umbra Institute hanno visitato alcune importanti aziende della regione, raccontando la loro esperienza sul campo e contribuendo a diffondere la qualità alimentare dell’Umbria all’estero.