Masseria La Fiorita Matera Italy Review – Farming with Conviction -- The first organic farm in Basilicata Italy opens its doors as an agriturismo
He may have told the story many times before, but it nonetheless felt fresh, even with an intermediary translating. It seemed to be a description of a conversion moment that could be an updated sequel to William James’ tome, The Varieties of Religious Experiences.
Joseph, the son and grandson of dairy farmers—one of nine sons in fact—recalled the day he just said “screw it”. This was back in the 80’s. He had read many articles about organic farming and was realizing how easy it was for his orchards to get contaminated. The only solution was to be all in, whether one was making cheese, harvesting, or planting.
It was that “screw it” moment that put Masseria La Fiorita on the path to what it is today—the first organic farm in the Basilicata region , and now also an agriturismo, where one can visit for a dinner, a day, a week or perhaps even the merriment of the Saint Joseph’s Day party—last March 19 in 2019—where everyone Joseph and his family knows are invited to help him celebrate his namesake saint.
One imagines that the fare at the Saint Joseph day party is one of the dishes that Masseria La Fiorita is famed for—either a pignata ( sheep meat inside bread dough with potatoes, chicory and parmesan cooked for four to five hours) or perhaps a porchetta feast (pig roast). Locals book parties at Masseria La Fiorita for these dishes, which are also served to large groups of campers who stay in their 35-bed hostel, or when the farm serves as a pit stop for pilgrims on the Camino Materano.
Masseria La Fiorita is the Family Legacy
And it’s ALL organic—30 hectares that include animals for cheese and dairy products, olive trees for olive oil, pomegranates, almonds, walnuts, figs, cherries, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, artichokes, potatoes, onion, garlic, tomato, lettuce fennel, broccoli, chicory---everything, including the bay leafs used to make the delicious liqueur Joseph’s charming daughter Marialaura serves you with a smile.
Marialaura, now 30 years old, did not need to have a conversion moment as her father describes having. She was born into it, and though she had worked for two years in Turin after getting a degree in economics and business management she returned to be the farm’s manager.
Marialaura explains, “I believe in the story of my family. This lifestyle is important to me and for everyone. When we cook we are using family recipes from my mother and grandmothers. We use only the products from this farm, only buying things like wine, salt, or sugar.”
Father and lookalike daughter’s pride in Masseria La Fiorita is palpable, especially when you leave their kitchen that seems outfitted to feed an army and walk the land. You see the orchards and the fields. You see the cows, goats, horses, donkey, rabbits, cats, dogs, fish and birds, and meet the grazing sheep coming back for the night. You see solar panels and new dormitories being built. Were there more time and a different season, you could become a part of this working farm- -milking cows or tilling or doing whatever the chores of the day require.
Devotees of intentional living will find much to admire at Masseria La Fiorita, and a stand out friendly reception. Young Marialaura doesn’t need to go out to see the world. Especially since Matera was named a European Capital of Culture-- the world is coming to her.