On the land that was once a small sharecrop farm, Fattoria Luchetti now holds one of the finest eco friendly cattle farms in central Italy. Combining traditional practices with the some of the most innovative electricity converting systems available, the business not only provides Perugians with high quality meats, but are doing it ethically and sustainably.
by Natalie Cleland and Janine Clark*
Laying amongst fresh hay and the calm bodies of their eight Chianina cows, ones typical to central Italy, Basilio slept soundly with his animals and siblings on a cold Perugian winter in 1950, absorbing their radiating heat and gentle breath. The family would wake as soon as their cattle did, ready to begin their day as sharecroppers on the 300 acres located on one of the dreamy hill tops of Callozzone that would later become known as the artisanal Fattoria Luchetti farm. Some of the same family members work on the land that overlooks the Umbrian valleys today. Basilio, now 94, recalls the days of small, basic farming as the beginning of his love for producing humane and simply delicious goods for the people of Perugia. Fattoria Luchetti has changed immensely since its beginnings as a sharecropping farm, most notably expanding and becoming highly energy-efficient. Though, they still maintain the same connection with their cattle as they did when sleeping on the warm barn floor next to them.
Now holding over 650 animals including cattle and pigs on their land, Fattoria Luchetti is an innovator in merging traditional practices with the functionality of modernity. As soon as one enters the winding, steep drive up to the farm, it is obvious the quality of Fattoria Luchetti’s meats starts with the quality of their land. Beautiful fields of olives and grains line the road and sprawl over the glorious hills of the Umbrian countryside. Once at the top, barns can be seen holding hundreds of cream colored Chianina cows; each one having a label on its ear with a name and number in order to track the cattle and maintain quality. When entering one of the four main cattle barns, visitors are greeted by well kept, free roaming mothers and their calves. Because of their ability to walk around as they please, their fat becomes more evenly distributed through their bodies, making for a more tender and marbled piece of meat. Some of the cows can even be seen running and playing with each other in an unexpected display of enjoyment. Silvano explains this is very atypical for most farms due to the lack of space and disagreeable treatment of the cattle that is often used. The Caninas’ display of comfort and joy illustrates the importance of humane animal treatment which Fattoria Luchetti believes in.
Customers can see the dedication and care Fattoria Luchetti gives to their animals, land, and customers from merely stepping foot on the farm or eating one of their many products. The incredibly eco friendly cattle farm has been producing free range, quality meat since the family took over in 1964. As soon as one meets the new generation of owners, it is clear the passion and intense care they have for their business is still prevalent. Silvano, Basilio’s son, expresses that owning a farm, especially this size, is hard work, yet there is a sense of harmony, passion, and accomplishment in seeing how far they’ve come. Each family member learned their responsibilities and knowledge from watching their elders work among the animals and fields which helps continue the farm’s intense tradition. Silvano explained how he learned from his father and grandfather and one day hopes to teach his daughters the same values and responsibilities. With over twenty family members contributing to the success, the farm has flourished as one of the largest in Central Italy.
After visiting the picturesque barns, one can venture into the farm’s onsite butcher shop. The head butcher, a member of the family, explains the process of proper aging done to all of their fresh meat is “the key to good taste”. Fattoria Luchetti uses nearly the entire cow, making sure nothing goes to waste; this follows the traditional approach of consumption used when food was sparse during the time of sharecroppers. Once the meats have been cut, the fresh and well marbled pieces of beef are placed into a controlled temperature cooling vessel in order to loosen their molecules, creating an extremely tender texture. After twenty days or so, the product is then ready for sale in one of the farm’s two butcher shops, alongside their excellent cured meats and ready-to-cook dishes. The quality of the cuts are incomparable due to the level of skill each family member holds for their craft and the maintenance of traditional care for their animals. The flavor of the meats is evident from the first bite– their prosciutto and salami are full of a robust, well salted taste and are ideal for an antipasto platter or panini; the farm’s roast beef can be prepared with a light sauce perfect for any Sunday table. It is clear the quality of beef could not have been achieved without the care the family puts into their farm.
While strolling throughout the barns watching the Chianinas interact with each other, a large dome can be seen a few meters away from the cattle, were the scenic traditional farm takes a more modern approach. Fattoria Luchetti has opted for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly method of running their business through the use of methane gas facilities. Leftover feed and waste is collected and stored in large containers until the dome is needed to be filled. Once the domes are full, the contents are processed and turned into methane gas that will be used as energy for the farm’s machinery. Any leftover gas is then purchased by the government to power surrounding towns. With this extra income, the family is able to take even better care of the animals while keeping the farm sustainable and optimising its efficiency. These machines were an investment, costing over 2 million dollars when purchased in 2014, but since then have improved the farm’s waste production while also establishing Fattoria Luchetti as one of the most eco friendly farms in Italy.
In 1964 when Basilio bought the land now known as Fattoria Luchetti, there was no way of knowing it would grow to such a high level of popularity; their butcher shops have become some of the most highly regarded in Perugia due to the amazing taste of their products, but also the responsible production of them. Not only has Fattoria Luchetti advanced and become an innovator of modern farming, the business has been able to maintain the important traditions of Italian harvesting through its treatment of animals and family run production. From the beautiful Umbrian farmland to the delicious roasts served on Perugian tables, Fattoria Luchetti has won the hearts of many, and with good reason.
*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 aziende della regione, raccontando la loro esperienza sul campo e contribuendo a diffondere la qualità alimentare dell’Umbria all’estero.