We’re in Trivio, near Monteleone di Spoleto, to taste organic cereals and legumes cultivated at an altitude above 1000 meters. Their strengths: respect for the environment, genetic selection and family spirit
by Emanuela De Pinto
When you’re 1000 meters up it’s enough to look around to be amazed. We’re in the unadulterated heart of Umbria, Valnerina, and the sky is so clear it looks painted. Trivio, a hamlet in Monteleone di Spoleto, is here Dolci Giuseppina’s organic legumes and cereals come from. Giuseppina and Antonio’s three children Domenico, Alessandro and Gloria are expecting us for a walk through the fields.
The farm started almost as a joke back in 1994 when working the land was a hobby passed down from generation to generation in these parts. On the farm’s 25 hectares of land they grow lentils, chickpeas, beans, grass peas (cicerchie) and mountain peas (roveja). But don’t call them simply ‘legumes’. Every seed is the fruit of an almost maniacal passion, selected by Domenico and Alessandro, 32 and 29 respectively, with great care. But Dolci Giuseppina cultivates and sells two cereals as well: barley and Monteleone di Spoleto Spelt, the only spelt in Europe which has obtained PDO certification. Amber with a glassy consistency, it’s perfect in soups, risotto and cold salads. More than 70% of the farm’s production of spelt takes place at an altitude above 1100 meters. Spelt being their top of the line product, it comes in different types. Wholemeal spelt, which is not subjected to any processing and is rich in fiber. PDO semi‐pearled spelt, which cooks more easily. Other preparations are polenta and ‘broken’ spelt, ideal for soups.
Recently the farm has been honored with the Medusa Prize in Rome, awarded by the “Iusm Sapientia Mundi” foundation for the cultivation of this extraordinary product and for their business philosophy, which is certified organic. We might even say biodynamic if we consider that the planting and harvest follow lunar cycles, just as they did in the past. On the back of every package is a traditional recipe from the Valnerina. On their website you can find an entire menu from appetizer to dessert: lentil meatballs, or spelt and truffle balls for vegetarians, mountain pea stew, spelt pie and even ‘country pancakes’ made with mountain pea flour and dried fruit.
Gloria, 21, is a student at the Department of Agriculture in Perugia and wants to become a nutritionist. “I want those who buy our products to understand the necessity of a healthy diet. Legumes and cereals can perfectly replace meat protein if eaten together”. The strength of their business is the family spirit. Here everyone works in harmony with everyone else and there is no annual closing. “Work is tiring”, says Antonio, “and when the weather plays its dirty tricks you risk coming away with nothing after all your effort. But positive feedback from our clients and the fact that we’ve been able to instill in our children a passion for nature makes it worthwhile”.
From the family fields you look out over Monteleone di Spoleto. The wind caresses the golden sheaves of wheat which sway beneath the hot sun. The air is light and pure. In the laboratory, however, the farm’s genetic heritage is being preserved. On the shelves there are 35 jars, each one containing a different variety of legume. “These are ancient seeds” ‐ says Alessandro, a young engineer who divides his time between building skyscrapers in a London office and a primal love for the places he grew up in ‐ “which preserve genetic information intact and keep the secrets of farmers’ accumulated knowledge”. Where can you buy these delicacies? If you went to Expo in June, you’ve seen them without a doubt. They are also present at nearly every Italian food fair. Events aside, we recommend coming directly to the farm, but you can also find their products on their website. The soul of this land, of the people who inhabit it, is in the elegant simplicity of a sheaf of spelt.