We have been writing, growing and telling the story of the Almond for 4 generations. Since 2000, “Fattoria della Mandorla”, a short supply chain in Alta Murgia National Park has done justice to the biodiversity of the territory by transforming the complete cycle of cultivar Filippo Cea Toritto Almond, and starting a natural museum.
After a decade of research and development, the organoleptic and nutritional characteristics of our almonds have allowed us to create an organic, healthy line of high quality products, ensuring the traceability of the production chain up to 100% organic.
One Spring Sunday…
In 1989, Dino and Isabella, lacking the economic resources, begin looking for a facilitated instrument to fulfil their entrepreneurial dream: creating a project based on values tied to the territory and environment, respecting mother nature with the objective of contributing to building a better world, in favour of everybody’s wellbeing.
On that day, on the road from Toritto to the village of Quasano, we met an agronomist who informed us about the existence of the law on youth entrepreneurship- I.G. (Isabella e Gerardino) and who helped us drafting our first business plan. After having sifted through many project ideas, on various agro-food industries and having travelled throughout Italy, we chose the one connected to our territory typical products, the almond industry, integrated by the production of Mediterranean, spontaneous and officinal plants in order to reach a rich range of organic and healthy products.
In 1995 we got married at “Masseria Sentinella” in Quasano.
In 1998 our firstborn son, Michele Gabriele, comes into this world.
The same year, after having presented our entrepreneurial idea, for 3 times throughout the previous 10 years, the Youth Entrepreneurial Authority in Rome approves our project.
The name of the company, “Erbario Isabella d’Italia” (Herbarium Isabella of Italy), comes from the same entrepreneurial idea. “Herbarium” as the collection of officinal products, “Isabella” from the proper name, and “of Italy” to indicate the origins of our products, 100% Italian traditional products. This way we have created the brand “Fattoria della Mandorla” (The Almond Farm).
The almond tree
Bari’s flourishing post-WWII market is already an old memory. The obsolescence of the facilities and the international competition of the Californian and Spanish almonds, especially of the organic almonds, years of low production due to climatic and atmospheric events have determined the abandon of the crop with the related, progressive resizing of the employed areas. Such phenomenon has subsequently resulted into putting out of business a big part of economic operators related to the transformation and commercialization of Bari Almonds (shellers, mediators and dealers).
Planting 20.000 almond autochthonous trees, practicing organic agriculture, creating the short supply chain in the National Alta Murgia Park, starting the Natural Almond Museum of Toritto, offering the market Toritto Almond, first as food for the health and wellbeing of people and then as ingredient for everyday food, has allowed us to fulfil our dream.
In 1998, after having searched for years the ideal place, Dino and Isabella buy a piece of land situated in the still nascent Alta Murgia Park, in the village of Quasano, a small Toritto suburb.
In 1998 begins the planting of approximately 20.000 cultivar Filippo Cea almond trees, olive trees and cherry trees.
At the dawn of 2000s the structure of the company arises. In 2001 the shelling activity of almonds begins with the certified organic AIAB-ICEA machinery. During the same year the company participates at trade fairs like SANA and BIOFACH.
In collaboration with local farmers we organize the first Toritto Almond Festival and the Committee for the promotion of Toritto Almond is established.
In March 2002 our second son, Leonardo, is born.
In September with the peeling machinery and the laboratory, the project investment comes to an end.
In 2004, backed by Puglia Region, Toritto Almond obtains the acknowledgement from Slow Food Presidium for biodiversity defence and becomes part of “Arca del Gusto.
Furthermore, the very same Puglia Region has acknowledged Toritto Almond as “typical and traditional product”.
On the 1st of July 2004 The National Park of Alta Murgia is born.
In 2006 we organized “QuaSani” (the name old village) which stands for Quality of Life, Alimentation, Nature and Itineraries in order to give value to the peculiarities of the territory and regain values and lifestyles of rustic dietary education with country stands, typical Murgia products banquets, excursions, meetings and debates, music, art and wellbeing.
Following a professional path and applying organic agriculture in 2002 we participate at the first international Organic Fair, BIOFACH in Nuremberg. In March our first foreign clients, with whom we organize a three-day excursion to visit our Murgia, arrive from Berlin. In May our first supplies are on their way to Germany. The Germans are interested in buying from the farmer at the very best price possible, requiring an excessive selection of the product. From 2002 to 2008 we are hemmed in by a couple of national clients that buy organic almonds demanding in time a more accurate selection.
Since 2008 we have been told that Spanish Organic Almonds are preferred to ours and that the interest in our products is not renewed. At this point we understood that we were out of the market as far as the almond wholesale market is concerned. Our luck was that of having thought since the very beginning about closing the circle of the short supply chain creating a vast range of healthy, organic products, supporting throughout the years the investments and the necessary sacrifices, risking sometimes not making it.
In 2009 we are asked to include “Fattoria della Mandorla” in the book “Guida al consumo solidale” and at the same time we are being contacted by a few GAS (fair trade buying groups or C.S.A.) from Veneto region, that acquire our products and appreciate their qualities placing orders systematically in time. There family groups that used to buy high quality organic products directly from the producers and from this experience we have got to know better the Fairtrade world, discovering the fact we shared the same values and lifestyles.
Today we know a great deal of the ethical purchasing groups and we are among the promotors of RES SUD (southern ethical economy network, the “Sbarchi in Piazza” project and RES Puglia and we are proud of having stimulated the first organised meeting in our company in 2013. We have organised and supported together with RES Puglia the XIII Sbarco Gas in Monopoli(BA).
Link to the site: www.respuglia.org/
In 2014 “Fattoria della Mandorla” and “Erbario Isabella d’Italia”, join together and lay the foundations for Quasani società agricola a r.l.
2015 is Mandorella time.
…For a better world.
Certain of contributing to a better world, winning the challenge against the new market, of the new economy we build together relationships, friendships and ethical values.
Dino and Isabella