Living freedom in the countryside

17 November 2020

Bringing the Zolfino Beans of the Slow Food Presidium

Simone Botti of Le Fontacce, near Arezzo, describes his work with olives and beans. Living the land is in his DNA, and the fruits of that land and that work are available in the Terra Madre online marketplace.

Olives, beans and iris flowers: theses are the three pillars of Simone’s company, Le Fontacce, situated at Loro Ciuffenna, a small town of around 5000 inhabitants in the countryside between Arezzo and Florence.

The Zolfino Beans of Le Fontacce

THE COUNTRYSIDE AND THE PLANTS

“I’m 33 years old and I’ve been doing this work since I was 11,” Simone tells us. “I started with my family’s land, which my grandfather used to cultivate, though he didn’t have a real business with it. When he passed on I took over: I was born in the countryside and I always liked the idea of trying to pull something out of the ground.”

That passion soon became a job: today Simone owns 20 hectares of land. The main product he makes is organic extra virgin olive oil: “I’ve had a special passion for olives ever since I was a boy,” he explains. “And I was born surrounded by these plants, they’re in my blood. Being my great passion, it’s also what I’ve invested in most of all, and recently I’ve also acquired an oil mill for the company, so we can make an even higher-quality product, which I believe is the only secret behind economic success.”

Beyond oil: the Zolfino Bean, Slow Food Presidium

The idea of planting Zolfino beans, of which Simone Bottie is one of just 11 producers, “came later. It’s one of the most difficult beans to grow, the yield is low and some years the harvest is quite poor. But I like challenges.”

Unlike some other seasons which haven’t been so fruitful, 2020 has been a good year, enough to convince the company to participate in the online marketplace of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto: “In the past I’ve taken part as a producer, but it’s the first time for me as an exhibitor. This year, having a lot of Zolfino beans, I decided to sign up for the event: compared to physically coming to Turin for five days, selling online means less effort on my part.”

Countryside: choosing freedom

“I carry this company forward by myself, it’s a one-man business and I’m the only one in my family to have chosen this path. How did I live through the first months of lockdown, alone on my land? The strongest feeling was one of freedom: to live in the countryside allows it. And there was some personal satisfaction too, knowing how important I was in a society which has often not given farmers much consideration. Yet in the months of spring, I never stopped working.”

by Marco Gritti, m.gritti@slowfood.it

Check out the virtual showcase of Terra Madre Salone del Gusto and visit Le Fontacce. In the virtual showcase you can find a complete presentation of the producers, and get to know them almost as well as you would in person. You can also buy the products of Le Fontacce directly in our online marketplace.